Before the President’s Shield Final today (May 9), Netherton United formed a guard of honour to acknowledge the Peterborough Premier Division title-winning exploits of Oakham United.
The city side are like that, Generous and sportsmanlike to a man. Unfortunately they played the entire final with the same spirit of goodwill and were thumped 5-0 by ruthless, well-organised and determined opponents.
Oakham are currently 17 points clear of Netherton in the top flight standings. The gulf in quality, and certainly in defensive discipline, appeared even greater over this 90 minutes. In fact the destination of the trophy was pretty much decided after just three minutes as Oakham sped out of the traps like starving greyhounds.
Matt Holland headed them in front from a second minute corner, Lewis Leckie overcame a bobbly PSL surface within 60 seconds to barge his way through the Netherton defence to make it 2-0. Netherton, who had lost key striker Tom Randall to injury in the warm-up, were shell-shocked and went on to deliver an embarrassing 45-minute display punctuated regularly by whines and moans at blameless officials and, more understandably. at each other.
Netherton had plenty of possession for a while, but Robbie Dance waltzed his way through the Netherton defence to make it 3-0 after 30 minutes and Ben Easson drilled home a fourth Oakham goal four minutes before the break.
Oakham were excellent. They provided all the best individual players with Holland outstanding at the back, Dance mesmerising at times in midfield and Leckie a tireless terrier up front. Netherton centre-backs Chris Hansfsord and Ben Daly were selected for the Peterborough League Rep XI this season, yet Leckie made them look like pub defenders in the first 45 minutes.
Oakham erected a yellow wall in the second-half and contained Netherton with ease. Ben Cullen had struck the outside of a post when he might have scored in the first-half, but Oakham goalkeeper Simon Dalton enjoyed an armchair ride for the second 45 minutes when action was scarce until Easson, another impressive performer, struck the bar from 30 yards. Not long after Adam Rothery headed home a fifth goal to complete a scoreline that hardly flattered the double-winners.
Netherton, who won the President’s Shield last season, achieved a different double of losing in two cup finals this season, They have a young side and will come again - they will be pleased that Oakham will be playing in the United Counties League by then.
Netherton United: James Wilson, Craig Spink, Eddie Patten, Ben Daly, Chris Hansford, Fraser Strurgess, Adam Scott, Steve Mastin, Jake Sansby, Dwayne Rankin, Ben Cullen. Substitutes: Greg Siccardi. Chris Wright, Jon Harrison.
Oakham United: Simon Dalton, Dan Jenkins, Oliver McCann, Stewart Lambie, Marcus Baines, Matt Holland, Ben Easson, Adam Rothery, Lewis Leckie, Richard Nelsn, Robbie Dance. Substitutes: Alex Brown, Ben Cox, Craig Welbourn, Sven Hart, Liam Mullineaux.
Goals: Oakham - Holland (2 mins), Leckie (3 mins), Dance (30 mins), Easson (41 mins), Rothery (87 mins).
Referee: Mark Spelling
Assistant referees: Martin Reed, Louisa Thorold.
Fourth official: Lee Hartley.