Cup upset is a fitting tribute to former keeper

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Wallington 3 Heaton Stannington 1 NFA Les Todd Senior Benevolent Bowl

WALLINGTON overcame the odds to progress into the quarter-finals of the Bowl competition after producing an excellent team performance, writes Kyle Reardon.

It was sweet revenge for last season’s Northern Alliance League Cup final defeat and a fitting tribute – as was a minute’s silence – to former Oakford Park keeper Kenny Hodgson, who won the Alliance with The Greens and died last week.

The visitors were defending the trophy despite winning promotion to Northern League Division Two at the end of last season because on-going floodlight delays preclude them from the Northumberland Senior Cup.

They had plenty of chances to take the lead inside the first 20 minutes. Dodsworth had been denied by defender Trevor Baston and keeper Matthew Lees, who also thwarted Waggett, and after Sam Walton chipped wide with Backhouse stranded at the opposite end, Heaton Stannington continued to dominate with efforts by Chapman, Deagle and another from Waggett.

With three suspended and another three injured, Steve Cowan’s Northern Alliance, Premier Division, mid-tablers looked more resigned to slaughter than some nearby sheep. Yet as the first half wore on, the Stan wore off.

And on 43 minutes, after brothers Sam and Jake Walton had gone close, Sam cut the ball back from the right byline and Alex Slack collected, took a touch and guided it sumptuously beyond Backhouse, high into the net.

Immediately after half-time, the hosts could even have extended their lead through Josh Gilmartin and Sam Walton.

But not having done so cost them, as on 59 minutes Chapman’s deflected cross-shot from the right came back off the far post too quickly to allow Baston to take evasive action and the ball bounced in off him.

Fortunately, the soon enough father-to-be’s blushes were spared.

On 70 minutes, a moment of rearguard inertia by the away side allowed Adam Whitehead to nod into the path of Walton – Jake, this time – who, charitably played onside, prodded the ball past Backhouse.

His brother then fired across the face of goal and saw an angled effort swerve inches over.

With three minutes left, Ben Fenwick and Slack combined to send Gilmartin scurrying left. His sliding retrieval took him inside James and the diminutive striker cut in and slotted past Backhouse to make the final score 3-1 to Wallington.