THE Ebac Northern League did it again on Saturday when Spennymoor Town brought the FA Carlsberg Vase back to the North East for a fifth consecutive season.
Jason Ainsley’s side edged Tunbridge Wells by the odd goal in three but the margin on their win could have been greater.
They dominated from the off but a combination of missed chances and dogged defending by the Kent side caused frayed nerves, especially after Tunbridge cancelled out Gavin Cogdon’s early strike.
Moors held the lead for an hour but then the outcome was put in considerable doubt when Tunbridge equalised in the 78th minute.
But far from being dispirited, Spennymoor roared back and sent their fans in raptures as man-of-the-match Keith Graydon hit the winner two minutes later.
Moors were out of the blocks from the kick-off but had to survive an early scare when Josh Stanford delivered a strong shot that goalkeeper Robert Dean was forced to parry.
But Ainsley’s side soon took over and were first to score in the 18th minute. Wayne Phillips moved smartly down the flank and when his cross was only partially cleared, Graydon returned the ball into the area for Cogdon to plant a header past goalkeeper Chris Oladogba.
Cogdon, who had racked up 10 goals in six of Spennymoor’s previous eight ties, almost made it a dozen when one-on-one with Oladogba.
Cogdon’s pace was causing problems for the Kent side and when Lewis Mingle was under pressure he headed against his own post before Oladogba kept his team in the game with another excellent stop, this time from Mark Davison.
Cogdon twice went close within the space of five second half minutes. First, the keeper turned over the crossbar a goalbound effort and he was again denied when in another one-on-one situtation.
Then suddenly it was all to play for. With just 12 minutes remaining Moors’ dream of climbing those famous steps to collect the Trophy receded as Stanford pounced on a punched clearance by Dean and returned the ball over the head of the ‘keeper who was desperately trying to get back into his goal.
Within two minutes however, Spennymoor were back in front. Graydon, who was outstanding throughout the 90 minutes, picked up a poor clearance and crashed the ball into the net from close range.
Captain Danny ‘Bobby’ Moore was ruled out with a broken ankle but he led the team out onto the pitch and accompanied skipper for the day Chris Mason in lifting the Trophy.
Ainsley, who has led Moors to three successive ENL championships, claimed the day had been one of the highlights of his career.
“It’s been the holy grail for Spennymoor and for myself. To take the Vase back to the North East for the fifth season in a row is a great honour and it was great to see so many smiling faces at the end of the game. I was really pleased for them,” said Ainsley, who during his time with Spennymoor has built up a reputation for preparing his sides to meet any challenge.
ENL chairman Mike Amos said he was ‘a very proud man’. “Teams from our League have now won the Vase five seasons in a row which proves that we are one of the top non-league competitions in the Country.”
Spennymoor Town: Dean, Griffiths, Mason, Capper, Walton (Stephenson), Dodds, Ryan, Graydon, Phillips (Peacock), Davison (Rae), Cogdon. Subs not used: Richardson, Knight.
Ref: Mr M Naylor (South Yorkshire) Att: 16, 751