PFA SENIOR CUP FINAL: Peterborough ICA Sports 0, Pinchbeck United 0 – ICA win 9-8 on penalties
Pinchbeck United lost this cup final in the cruellest way on Monday evening.
After being outplayed for much of the first half, the men from Knight Street forced their way back into the game and nearly clinched victory in a dominant final quarter.
They then scored eight out of eight spot kicks in the resulting penalty shoot-out, only for their opponents to equal them goal for goal until United’s Luke Gardner blazed one high and wide.
Up stepped ICA keeper Adam Mills to coolly slot home his effort and the Cup was going to the Peterborough team.
In truth, Pinchbeck were well off the pace in the first half and looked tired after a glut of games recently.
But they held on manfully as their superb fitness showed and had their been extra time rather than the match going straight to penalties, they would have looked good for victory.
Pinchbeck manager Ian Dunn was honest enough to admit his men hadn’t been at their best on Monday night – but still felt they could have nicked victory.
“They left a lot on the pitch on Friday night in the Shield final,” Dunn told the Guardian.
“On reflection we lacked a bit of pace and looked tired for that first 30 minutes. We’ve been playing three games a week and it took its toll
But we’ve finished second in the league and won a cup so it’s still been a good seasonPinchbeck manager Ian Dunn
“Having said that, ICA tired in the second half and we found our legs. We virtually camped in their half for the final 15 minutes. It was a horrible way to lose. We could have accepted losing in 90 minutes as, over all, they were the better team, but when you get to penalties you know you’ve got a chance.
“And the standard of spot kicks was fantastic. Yes, Luke missed and he’s gutted, but it’s not his fault we lost... we didn’t play well enough.
“But we’ve finished second in the league and won a cup so it’s still been a good season.”
ICA had lost three times to Pinchbeck this season and finished 28 points below them in the league, but from the start of Monday’s encounter they looked sharper, with wingers Harley Williams and Joshua Smith causing all sorts of problems.
The first chance of the match fell to ICA’s veteran striker Andy Wayte, who was put through after six minutes but angled his shot wide from 15 yards.
Shortly afterwards Ollie Maltby got on the end of a high cross for Pinchbeck but his header looped harmlessly wide.
Then Tony Edwards’ speculative effort from outside the box was tipped over the bar by Mills.
But it was ICA asking most questions and when Smith skinned Gardner he was desperately unlucky to see his nicely weighted finish strike the foot of the post. Then a Williams free kick whizzed just over the bar from 25 yards after Vaidas Maciansku was fouled.
Farrow then whipped in a left foot cross from the right for ICA that just needed an ICA boot to turn it into the back of the net.
The best chance of all came in the third minute of first half injury time when a cross from the right by Thomas Curtis was headed over the goal from eight yards by Williams with the goal gaping.
ICA continued to threaten at the start of the second period and Pinchbeck keeper Ben Martin pulled off a great save from a Williams drive after a speedy break and one-two with Wayte.
Minutes later, they went close again when a cross from the left by Williams found Smith in loads of space but he lashed his volley over from 10 yards.
But the Peterborough side were tiring and Pinchbeck started to get more and more into the game.
With 15 minutes remaining they twice nearly opened the scoring. First, Tyler Wright’s thumping drive from 20 yards bounced up and hit the keeper in the face – either side of him and it was a goal. Then a Maltby header was well saved.
The same player then saw a header bounce the wrong side of the post and Wright’s hard drive was straight at the goalkeeper before the final whistle brought on the penalties.
pinchbeck united: Ben Martin, Brad Morrell, Luke Gardner, James Gordan (Ian Dunn 45 mins), Jack Smith (Tom Sergeant 45), Tom Brooks, Tony Edwards, Nick Bishop (captain), Ollie Maltby, Tyler Wright, Liam Ogden. Subs (not used): Callum Lawe, Fabio Ramos, Conner Eves.
ICA Sports: Adam Hills, Simon Farrow (Dave Kilby 67), Vaidas Maciansku, Nathan Glover, Lewis Glover, Kane Gilbert, Harley Williams, Billy Bennett, Andy Wayte (Danial Elvestad 80), Thomas Curtis (Conor Pridmore 6), Joshua Smith. Subs (not used): Stephen Wells, Matt Nooteboom.
Pinchbeck penalties: Tony Edwards, Tom Sergeant, Brad Morrell, Liam Ogden, Ollie Maltby, Tyler Wright, Nick Bishop, Ian Dunn.
Star man: Tom Brooks (Pinchbeck). Won all his headers and tackles and never got caught out of position.