Rushden ended the season by winning their fourth Hillier Cup trophy – their second in succession, the first time a team has ever achieved such a feat in the competition. The game – which was Rushden’s 62nd in all competitions this term – marked an apt end to the season: in July, Rushden had kicked off their campaign with a 1-1 pre-season draw against yesterday’s opponents.
Brackley, incidentally, were Rushden’s first ever Hillier Cup opponents, when the two teams met at Nene Park in 1992.
With both sides enjoying high-scoring wins in the cup’s earlier rounds, the game itself was something of a dull affair, with no goals being scored until just before the hour mark. When the ball did get in the net, it came courtesy of a Brackley corner, Tom Winter’s ball soaring over everyone – including MOTM Martyn Margasaon – and into the back of the net to put the visitors 1-0 up.
Rushden, who had named the “strongest possible side”, hit back almost immediately. A Michael Rankine dart into the box resulted in the burly forward being taken brought down from behind. Curtis Woodhouse stepped up to take the spot-kick, duly slotting the ball into the net to even the scores.
The 355 fans (who had turned down watching Manchester United take on Barcelona) had to wait nearly half an hour longer to get another goal. With the game seemingly headed towards extra-time, Lee Tomlin converted from a Lawrence Lambley cross, the striker’s 4th goal of the competition. The Diamonds held out in the final few minutes, and succeeded in ending the season on a bright note.
Above, scorer Lee Tomlin replaces Sam Smith.
Above, match action. Below, the coaching staff etc. come on the field after the final whistle blows.
Above, a credible number of away fans made the trip to cheer their team on in their second Hillier Cup final since 1989.
Above, former Diamond Dave Savage collects his medal. Ryan Semple, another ex-RDFC man, made the trip as an unused sub.
Hopey shows off his trophy.
Roll on August!