PONTEFRACT Amateurs celebrated Castleford & District FA Sunday Cup success for the first time in their history when they beat Ferrybridge Progressive 3-2 in a thrilling final played in wet conditions at Pontefract Collieries’ White Rose Stadium.
Amateurs, who earlier announced that this was to be their final season together as a team, ensured they went out on high when Simon Dickinson scored with just minutes left of the 90 to edge out Castleford Sunday Premier Division rivals Ferrybridge.
It was great reward for Phil and Brenda Beecher, who took up the reigns of the club at the end of last season and who also saw their twin sons Josh and Luke play a huge part in proceedings.
Amateurs started much the better of the two sides with Chris Burnett and Phil O’Leary battling for control in the central midfield position while Andy Burton and Craig Tankard were a real handful for the Progressive back line.
At the back Pontefract looked solid, thanks to Luke Beecher, Phil Maher, Ben Smith and captain Paul Hegarty, so much so that goalkeeper Jason Hoare rarely touched the ball inside the opening half-hour.
All that was to change, though, when Progressive took the lead against the run of play. Jamie Bird, who had been their best outlet, cut inside after a mazy run down the flank to cross into a dangerous position and keeper Hoare could only parry onto the on-coming Richard Clough, who bundled the ball into the back of the net.
Amateurs regrouped and found the perfect response when Tankard nodded home an O’Leary cross at the back post and they should have took the lead moments later when Luke Beecher’s fierce shot was tipped onto the bar by a brilliant one-handed save from Ferrybridge’s custodian Adam Tasker.
Despite their dominance Amateurs could not find the back of the net and they came to rue their missed chances when Bird once again became their downfall, this time the provider turned goal-scorer with a tidy finish into the bottom corner to put Progressive back in front.
Back came Amateurs and they drew level on the stroke of half-time. Andy Burton played in Tankard, who coolly rode the challenges of the Progressive centre-back pairing of Jimmy Williams and Eddie Wilson to blast into the roof of the net to send the teams into the break all square.
The second half was a different story. Progressive began to dominate and held the ball for long periods, Dave Dickinson hit the upright with a wonderful curling shot and Burnett was on hand to clear up any further danger, while Hoare dealt with a couple of tricky low shots.
Then with the tie seeming to be heading for extra-time Burton was put through on the right hand side and as he cut inside he let rip a rasping shot that was superbly tipped way by Tasker. The resulting corner, however, was not dealt with and somehow Dickinson managed to poke the ball home to send the Pontefract faithful delirious.
There was further misery for Progressive as keeper Tasker was dismissed for strong protects that he had been fouled in the build-up to the goal.
A nervy last two minutes plus four minutes of injury-time followed for Pontefract, but they kept ten-men Progressive at the wrong end of the field to spark scenes of jubilation when the match official blew for full-time.
Ironically current league champions Amateurs, who are out of the title race, still have one more league game to play, which is against Ferrybridge Progressive, who can still win the league.
The Amateurs players and coaching staff would like to thanks their landlord and landlady, who over the years have provided them with great hospitality. Maggie Senior and Matt Lindop have more than played their part in the team’s success.