Epworth Town have claimed the first football trophy for the Isle since 2009 after winning the Scunthorpe Centurion Sporting Shield.
Town dug deep to overcome a strong Scotter United side, coming away with a 2-1 final win to claim their first piece of silverware in several years.
Epworth went into their first cup final of the season in high hope of turning around their dreadful recent records in finals after twice beating Scotter in the league.
The Isle team couldn’t have asked for a better way to settle their nerves. In the fifth minute of the game, with both teams still weighing each other up, the ball was played out to the left to Gary Moment who swung a deep ball into the opponent’s penalty area that caused confusion between goalkeeper and defender leaving Epworth winger Matt Muldoon the opportunity to sneak inbetween them and loop a header into the net.
After getting the perfect start, Epworth began to settle and started playing the ball around through the midfield trio of Martin Smedley, James Bingham and Wayne Hutchinson.
The fitness and quick closing down saw the Isle team coming out on top, restricting Scotter to long balls which were dealt with well by the Epworth back four of Lee Kirk, Greg Carroll, Leigh Jenkinson and Richard Keeble.
The couple of times Scotter did manage to break through goalkeeper Jonny Barnett came out fast and brave to halt the attacks.
Hutchinson was seeing a lot of the ball in midfield and Muldoon was terrorising the opponent’s full-back with his blistering pace, giving Epworth the chance to get the ball up to their big striker Lee Wood.
Smedley found himself in unfamiliar territory a couple of times and tried his luck from distance, both times the keeper got down well to save.
As the half time whistle sounded, both teams came off the pitch tired but Epworth clearly the happier of the two teams.
As the second half got underway, it was clear Scotter still fancied their own chances and were starting to create some chances of their own.
Captain Carroll was winning every header which left the Scotter team the only option of going wide where Kirk and Keeble were frustrating their opponents just as much with some great tackling.
The one time Scotter did get in behind the Epworth back four, veteran and former Premier League player Jenkinson showed the pace that saw him once win the Rumblelows Sprint Challenge to get back and make a superb block.
It was the combination of Hutchinson and Muldoon that led to Epworth increasing their lead again.
After the tiresome Hutchinson picked the ball up in the middle of the park, he played a superb ball splitting the defence for Muldoon to run on to and break free. The keeper came out in vain to try and stop him but he simply dropped his shoulder, took the ball around the stopper and slotted it into an empty net to send the local team and visiting supporters wild with celebrations and put the Isle team two goals up.
However, Scotter found some life and upped their tempo and but for some good defending by Kirk and a couple more saves from Barnett, Epworth were able to keep their two goal lead.
Epworth did seem to try and shut up shop and started sitting deeper and deeper allowing Scotter more space to get their first hold on the game. This resulted in them getting a goal to put them right back into the frame.
For the first time a Scotter player broke free down the right, he played in a good cross for their striker to hit a side foot volley into the near post top corner, leaving Barnett with no chance.
This was the lifeline Scotter were looking for and just what Epworth were dreading. It was going to be a hard final few minutes for the Isle team where they would need to show real grit and determination to hang on.
Town had to defend stoically and keep out a late flurry of corners for Scotter before the final whistle sounded and Epworth could celebrate, despite Muldoon receiving a late red card for voicing his displeasure at an earlier tackle made on him.
Tonight (Thursday) sees Epworth playing in their second final of the season at Brigg Town against a much tougher Limestone Rangers team, kick-off is 19.30pm.
(Report submitted by Epworth Town).
See this week’s Epworth Bells for the manager’s reaction to Epworth Town making history.