Potters Bar 4 - V - 2 FC Gnosall
A still evening at Oldfields Sports Ground as hosts Uttoxeter Town welcomed Potters Bar and FC Gnosall for this season’s Sunday Challenge Cup Final.
After the recent spell of bad weather saw three successive cup finals postponed, the ground staff at Oldfields worked their magic to ensure a good playing surface greeted the two teams and a sigh of relief from the organisers as the second final of the season kicked off.
Stafford & District Sunday League side FC Gnosall were on the front foot from the off, forcing numerous corners and seeing dangerous balls played into the box putting the Potters Bar defence under pressure on several occasions, however, the defence were up to the challenge and stood firm when it seemed an early goal was inevitable.
And, in true cup football fashion, the opening goal came at the other end of the pitch shortly after the initial period of pressure had been withstood.
A long throw into the box deceived the Gnosall keeper John Marlborough and, although it took two attempts, Steve Davies was on hand to stab the ball home and open the scoring for the Coors Sunday League outfit.
Gnosall were rocked and the game had suddenly turned a full 180 degrees as Potters Bar went on the hunt for a second goal - and when it came it was an aerial assault that resulted in them doubling their lead with Emad Daragheh beating the keeper to the ball and seeing his header roll across the line.
A shell shocked Gnosall battled back into the tie though, after surviving a close call for a third goal when a ball across the six yard box was missed by yellow and black shirts, and shortly before the break they had their lifeline.
Potters Bar keeper Gareth Davies tipped a free-kick onto the bar and Ryan Hodson was on hand to stab home, reducing the deficit and sending the teams into the interval with Potters Bar leading 2-1.
The momentum shift continued in the second half with Gnosall drawing level while some supporters were still making their long walk from the refreshments to pitchside when Alex Barnfarther volleyed home from the edge of the box to tie things up at 2-2.
The game was now wide open and there for the taking but just as it seemed Gnosall had the upper hand, they fell victim to two sucker punches and were soon two goals down again.
Firstly Steve Davies pounced on a through ball to calmly run into the box and slot past the advancing keeper leaving a trail of defenders in his wake before substitute Tyler Simms pounced on hesitation in the Gnosall defence to fire past the keeper and put Potters Bar in command at 4-2.
While Gnosall battled hard to find a way back into the game they were unable to cause too many issues for their opponents and Potters Bar managed the game in the final ten minutes, almost increasing their lead with a free-kick from Steve Davies hitting the bar late on, narrowly missing out on a cup final hat-trick.
Congratulations to Potters Bar on being crowned Staffordshire FA Sunday Challenge Cup Champions for 2017/18 and to both sides on serving up an entertaining contest for their supporters.
A big thanks to all those who came along to support their teams in the final and also to the Uttoxeter Town ground staff for ensuring the surface was in great condition considering the recent poor weather.
Next up is the County Youth Challenge Cup Final this Tuesday 27th March at Stone Dominoes FC.