Vics' prevailed in tonight's promotion play-off semi-final defeating visitors Glossop North End by the odd goal in three. After taking an early lead through Stuart Cook's penalty and his fifteenth strike of the season, Mark Reed hit back for the Hillmen' soon after. Keeper' Andy Robertson saw red for the visitors' on 20', for punching Vics' centre-back Andy Watson. Leading scorer Richie Bennett hammered in a trademark left-foot finish just past the hour to send the Green and Whites' into the FINAL this Saturday against Spennymoor Town at the Moor's Brewery Field ground.
Wednesday 27th April 2016. COMPETITION - Evo-Stik NPL Division One North Promotion Play-Off Semi-Final. VENUE - The Net Dec Stadium, Northwich
LINE-UP'S - Vics' - Springthorpe, Byrne, Watson (caution), Regan, Duxbury (caution), Cook, Summerskill, Lakeland (Ball 83'), Bennett (Clarke 90'), Howard (C), Burnett (Amis 83'). Un-used subs' - McCoy (GK), Roddy.
Glossop - Robertson (S/O 20'), Kelvin Lugsden (caution), Russell (Carey 76') (caution), Young (C) (caution), Barnes (Richardson 22'), Andrews, Mulholland, Rainford (Bailey H/T), Kieran Lugsden, Reed, Moran. Un-used subs' - Brizell, Parker.
GOALS - Vics' - Stuart Cook 3' (Penalty), Richie Bennett 61'. Glossop - Mark Reed 12'. Unavailable for Vics' - Abou Sanogo (groin), Cedric Krou (Knee.)
Vics' M.O.M - Stuart Cook. Carried on from where he left off last Saturday. Here, there and everywhere and kept the Vics' engine room compact and solid. Kept his composure to net the all important first goal early on.
PICTURED - Stuart Cook fires Vics' in front from the penalty spot.
Vics' started this huge play-off semi-final much the same as they had at Surrey Street in last Saturday's regular end of season League fixture. The Green and Whites' seized the lead on 3' when a penalty was awarded for handball; Hillmen' full-back Kelvin Lugsden handled Vics' striker Richie Bennett's cross just inside the eighteen-yard area. Stuart Cook duly stepped up and confidently drilled the free-hit to keeper' Andy Robertson's left; the ball nestled in the corner of the net despite the net-minder getting a hand to the England Futsal international's effort. The lead should have been doubled three minutes later on 6' when Stuart Cook's right-foot twenty-two yard pile-driver was brilliantly beaten out by Robertson, and Gary Burnett prodded the rebound wide from five yards out with the goal gaping. It was a costly miss as on 12' Glossop hauled themselves level in their first real sortie forward. Striker Kieran Lugsden's rising right-foot shot from twelve yards was headed off the line by that man Stuart Cook; but hit-man Mark Reed was lurking five yards out and hammered a shot right-footed into the roof of the net which Vics' glove-man Mason Springthorpe had no chance of saving. A key moment in the game came on 20' when Hillmen' keeper' Andy Robertson was red-carded and ordered from the field by referee Martin Woods for punching Vics' centre-back Andy Watson in the groin after a loose ball from a Brian Summerskill corner-kick was collected by the glove-man; Watson had left a trailing leg in an attempt to retrieve the ball which Robertson had perhaps thought was a foul on himself. It meant Glossop manager Chris Willcock had to send on outfield player Ben Richardson as a stop-gap keeper' as no recognised glove-man was named on the Hillmens' bench. The period after the sending-off saw little action at either end as the game became scrappy but on 36' Vics' striker Richie Bennett headed wide past the far post on an angle from six yards after an excellent hanging, deep cross by Alex Byrne on the right.
HALF-TIME - Vics' 1-1 Glossop N.E.
Second half proceedings got under-way with Glossop battling gamely despite Vics' numerical advantage. Iain Howard saw a low shot fizz just wide of the far post on 54' with Richardson in goal scrambling, and what ultimately proved to be the winning goal arrived just after the hour mark, leading scorer Richie Bennett drilled a rising left-foot shot into the roof of the net from eight yards out following a flowing move down-field which saw Scott Duxbury feed Iain Howard who in turn sent across an inviting ball for the giant hit-man to register his 28th goal of an outstanding season. On 75' an Iain Howard left-foot free-kick from twenty-five yards was miraculously saved by the keeper' and Richie Bennett's screamer from short range was also saved by Ben Richardson as the Hillmen' were now hanging on grimly. As the game entered into the four additional minutes; Glossop launched a series of attacks in a desperate attempt to force extra-time but the Green and Whites' held firm and a promotion play-off final was booked Vs Spennymoor Town at the Brewery Field ground this Saturday.
Manager Adam Lakeland's verdict on the win and a place in this Saturday's promotion play-off final -
A brilliant win, Adam - it wasn't pretty at times but with what was at stake it's the result that matters and now a tough task ahead at Spennymoor in the final this Saturday.
I said in my notes after the previous league meetings with Glossop that the outcomes of those games wouldn't have any bearing on the game this evening as play-off games are completely different. There's obviously a lot of tension, nervousness and pressure on the players and this usually makes for poor scrappy games which is exactly what it was and what we expected.
I spoke to the players beforehand about keeping their discipline and composure as it's so very important in these games that you keep 11 players on the pitch and I thought the lads dealt brilliantly with this considering how scrappy the game became. When Andy Robertson got sent off, from a distance it looked very harsh but having seen it back on the video the referee was perfectly placed and he was left with no choice. It was 100% the correct decision and credit to him for firstly seeing it and secondly having the bottle in such a big game and so early on to show him the red card.
I actually felt that it worked against us a bit the big decisions in terms of our performance and mindset. The penalty came arguably too early and shortly after Gary Burnett had an unbelievable chance to make it 2-0 and that could have been the game buried after 6 minutes which was when it was 11 v11. Them scoring, a poor goal by us as mistakes led to them earning the corner and then obviously going down to 10 men galvanised them and I have respect for their players for how hard they worked for one another to stay in the game.
Second half we were much more settled, we played higher up the pitch which enabled us to win more second ball and dominate possession and I felt it was only a matter of time before we went ahead. Once in front we had a few opportunities where we should have wrapped the game up, Richie Bennett had a great chance to make it 3-1 which saw Ben Richardson make an unbelievable save. By not putting the match to bed it saw a bit of a push again from them in the last 5 minutes where we became a bit nervous but nevertheless we saw the game out and got the result we wanted.
I thought our supporters on the night were fantastic, the best atmosphere in the ground since I have been at the club and I hope we have a number of them travelling to support the team again on Saturday at Spennymoor in what will be a tough yet winnable final.
Up next for Vics' is the Evo-Stik NPL Division One North PROMOTION PLAY-OFF FINAL on Saturday 30th April. Kick-off is at 15:00. Stadium Address - The Brewery Field Ground, Wood View, Spennymoor, County Durham. Postcode for Sat-nav systems is - DL16 6JN. Admission prices - £8 Adults, £5 Concessions (O-60's), £3 for U-16's.
Match report & interviews by Jamie Dewsbury.