On Tuesday, Rushden will play their second cup final of the season, as they take on Brackley Town in the NFA Hillier Cup. Rushden have won the cup three times in their history, in ’94, ’99 and last season. Brackely, contrastingly, have never won this competition, but have fallen at the semi-final stage twice in the last three seasons (excluding this term).
Despite Rushden playing two levels above The Saints, there have been a number of links between the sides this season. Indeed, Rushden will end the season playing against the same team that they opened against; in July, Rushden faced Brackley in their first pre-season game of the campaign; a game whose highlights can be seen here…
Another link between the side comes in the form of Lee Tomlin’s early-season loan spell at St. James’ Park.
Above, Rushden attack a corner at the pre-season friendly between the two sides in July.
Despite sitting at the top of the BGB early in the season, Brackley fell off the promotion push as the season wore on, and finished the season in 8th place, 9 points off the play-offs. Nonetheless, they have enjoyed greater success in the Hillier Cup, scoring 12 goals in their three defeats of Woodford, (3-1), Raunds (6-1) and Rothwell (3-1).
Rushen have gone one better by scoring 13 goals in the season so far, brushing away Corby (5-0), Cogenhoe (4-1) and Northampton Spencer (4-2). By contrast, going into last years final, Rushden had scored just 5 goals (although they did go on to nearly double that tally, by scoring 4 in the final).
Above, Brackley Town (r&w) in action last Saturday agaisnt Clevedon Town.
With this the last competitive game of the season for both sides, a reasonable enough crowd can be expected, perhaps 350+. The distraction of the Champions League on the telly will undoubtedly lure a few of the punters away, but a cup final is a cup final…