Notts F.A. Senior Cup Final 2007/08
Eastwood Town 2 v 0 Ollerton Town
Meadow Lane, Notts County F.C.
Pictures from Meadow Lane (click on picture to enlarge)
Road to the Final
Semis: v Carlton Town (a) 1-1 (5-4 on pens) v Gedling MW (a) 3-2
Q/F: v Hucknall Town (a) 1-0 v Gedling Town (a) 2-0
3rd Round v Retford United (a) 2-1 v Radford (a) 3-1
2nd Round v Radcliffe Olympic (h) 4-3
1st Round v Newark Town (a) 2-1
Arnold Town 0 v 0 Eastwood Town
(Eastwood win 3-2 on pens)
(At Meadow Lane, Notts County - 1930hrs Thursday 26 April 2020)
As most football fans can testify, the really classic matches are the ones that don't actually matter a great deal. When it comes to the biggies, especially cup finals, they're usually a damp squib. Take the F.A. Cup for example. Prior to last season, you'd probably have to go back to the Man United versus Crystal Palace 3-3 draw in 1990 for a final where one didn't have to stifle a yawn here and there. Unfortunately, this years Nottinghamshire Senior F.A. Cup Final required quite a few yawns, and a few shivers.
It wasn't the case that Eastwood and Arnold weren't trying to entertain. More a case that the middle of the park resembled a scene from the wonderful playground game of British Bulldog. There was simply no time to breathe in there, never mind provide a half decent pass. Even when the passes did find their way through, both sides seemed to have forgotten that the rugby posts from Nottingham RFC's match the previous Sunday had been removed.
The evening started well. Notts County's home bathed in spring sunshine, with the wonderfully colourful Arnold supporter's singing their hearts out for their heroes in yellow & Blue. Unfortunately for them, their team's underdog tag seemed entirely warranted as they commenced proceedings playing more like rabbits than Eagles. Within two minutes, Eastwood immensely talented winger Lindon Meikle forced a fine save out of Lee Broster in the Arnold goal. Five minutes later, Eastwood's Richard Cooper hit a shot from 25-yards narrowly over the bar.
It wasn't until the 17th minute that Arnold posed any threat at all, a long throw from Tom Watson being punched away by Ian Deakins for a corner . A spell of pressure ensued for the Eagle's but the Badger's were soon back dominating proceedings. First Colin Daniel forced another fine save from the impressive Broster, before Lindon Meikle and his Brother Deon both fired efforts over the bar. A weak header from Arnold's Andy Haskins failed to bother Deakins and sadly that was it. It is unlikely that the on-looking Nottingham Forest striker Grant Holt would have taken away too many tips.
By the time the two teams emerged for the second half, the Meadow Lane weather had decided to revert back to winter. I predict that one or two of the short sleeved Barmy Army youngsters may well have heavy colds this morning. Perhaps the deteriorating weather accounts for one or two of them getting themselves ejected from the ground to find some shelter. Either that, or it was evidence of more of the same over-bureaucratic stewarding that is spoiling the fun for many at Notts and Forest.
Anyway, I digress (easily done given that there was little improvement in the second half). The Badger's continued their domination, but with very little sign of an end product. Lindon Meikle continued to cut and weave his way through the well-marshalled Arnold rearguard, but either shot wide, found a man offside or over-elaborated on the ball. Still, his wizardry were a joy to watch in a game devoid of much skill.
That said, credit to Arnold for their tireless work in keeping the Badger's at bay with some gritty challenges, some of which proved to be a little too gritty for lenient Referee Coote, who lost patience in the 62nd minute, booking Mark Clarke for a clumsy challenge. A few minutes later, the Badger's supporters finally found their voice as Lindon Meikle produced a wonder save from Broster.
Eastwood continued to pile on the pressure with both Paul Mitchell and Lindon Meikle almost breaking through the resolute Arnold defence. With extra time looming, Jay Smedley was provided with yet another opportunity by Lindon Meikle for the Badgers, but somehow managed to spoon his shot over the bar when it looked easier to score. Another thirty minutes beckoned. Oh what joy.
Extra time proved to be a little more balanced. As the rain became stronger, Arnold did likewise. Perhaps the dominance was leaving Eastwood a little jaded, as Arnold looked much the fitter of the two. Unfortunately, whilst the game looked more balanced, the chances were till not forthcoming. Indeed the first fifteen was littered with niggling fouls, drawing a booking for each side. The second half provided both sides with the chance to nick it, but unsurprisingly neither side could take their opportunity. Former Middlesbrough player Chris Freestone's effort blocked for Arnold, and Colin Daniel aiming one towards the banks of the Trent.
Penalty shoot-outs are where heroes are created, and this one was no exception. The talk leading up to the first penalties being taken was whether we'd see a ball in the back of the net by the time the the milkman makes his way down London Road. The answer was an emphatic 'yes' as the first three kicks were put away at the Family Stand End. Then up stepped Eastwood keeper, Ian Deakin, to put away Eastwood's second. This proved a turning point in the match, as his courage raised both the spirits of the watching Badgers supporters and his own self-belief. Right-back youngster Watson looked nervous as he prepared to take Arnold's next penalty, blasting it straight at the grateful Deakins. After that, Arnold couldn't find the net again, and Eastwood emerged victorious for the second year in succession.
As the Eastwood players and coaching staff rushed to their goalkeeping hero, you could only raise a smile for the 19-year-old who had been lambasted for his previous weekends performance, and who had been discarded by Nottingham Forest due to a series of injuries. The heart was warmed further on this cold and wet evening by the nature of Eastwood's tribute to a local supporter. As the team mounted the steps to collect the trophy, they had pulled on t-shirts in tribute to Daniel Bradshaw, who had died of meningitis last month, aged just seven-years-old.
A fitting way to end the dreary finale of this 124-year old competition.
NF.com Man Of The Match: Lindon Meikle - Pacey, classy winger who never stopped working and deserved more reward for his efforts.
Meadow Lane, Nottingham Match-night Programme Pre-Match pleasantries.
Eagles! Eagles! - Arnold's Barmy Army John & Esmé Crosby cheer on the Eagles The sun sets on Meadow Lane
Chance goes begging for Eagles Elvis looks on Badgers burrow in
Extra time prep talks The grand prize on offer Badger's storm Deakin
Arnold keeper lee Broster Badgers Captain Paul 'Mitch' Mitchell Derek Pavis hands out the winners medals
A Proud Badger Champions! RJOB meets Badger - no hard feelings
Full size pictures can be provided & reproduced upon request.