History will read that Wrexham and Grimsby Town will contest the Trophy, as well as, perhaps, the BSP automatic promotion slot. But Gainsborough’s stock and dreams continue to rise as high as those blue balloons that greeted the teams as the gladiators took to the Colosseum to contest a grass-roots full-blooded FA Trophy fiesta semi, with passion never out of fashion. The chants for Peter Swann, the chairman, were sung by all, as the kindly, astute, but ailing benefactor, looked on like a proud father who sees the fruits of his labour and dreams continue to blossom, whatever the aggregate score.
For the benefit of Dragons and Trinity fans, visiting the site for the first time, first the score & scorers, secondly the teams & schemes, then an epic match report to reflect the deeds by both sides, in a titanic tussle, that was an £11 treat to behold. Thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs
Gainsborough 2–1 Wrexham
(H/T 1 –1)
D Wright 21 Hawkridge 26 Leary 79
Blues 1606, Dragons 844
The teams & Schemes
2 Roma (Y-90), 5 Hone, 4 Waterfall 3 Wilde,
9 Yates 7 Russell 6 Leary (Y-45) 8 Nelthorpe 11 Hawkridge
10 Stamp (Y-36)
45 Barraclough on for Nelthorpe (switch to 4-4-2) 63 Young on for Waterfall 71 Connor on for Yates (switch to 4-3-3)
Young, Clarke, Thompson, Barraclough, Connor
2 S Wright 23 Westwood 6 Riley 3 Ashton
8 Harris 12 Keates 14 Clarke 16 Hunt
9 Wright (Y-65) 11 Morrell (Y-68)
76 Ormerod on for Morrell 81 Ciezlewicz on for Hunt
Coughlin, Cieslewicz, Walker, Little, Ormerod.
But to the game fellow football fans, to the game.
The Blues were first to press with good work from Russell and Leary down the right. Not unlike the first game it was end to end stuff. Danny Wright slipped Wilde down the right channel and from Waterfall’s half clearance Harris drove wide. Steven Wright then overlapped to send over a peach, but Butz was wise to that one. A neat three man exchange saw Harris, Clarke and Ashton denied in the nick of time by Russell, eager to meet, greet and beat all over the field. From the corner Danny Wright signalled his intent, but fired wide under pressure from Hone.
Much like the first game, a refereeing decision would threaten to put the game beyond the gamely Gainsborough blues. A glorious 30-yard chipped ball from Russell saw Yates bring it under his spell and beat Riley all ends up. The centre-back went to ground and the ref bought it, curtailing a clear run on goal. Maxwell sent the free-kick all of 50 yards far right to Danny Wright. He turned inside and curled an unstoppable 25-yarder into the top left corner with Butz, close but clasping at air. A ‘worldie’ that even the Trinity fans acknowledged as worth the gate money alone.
Even with Wrexham knocking it about, Leary, Russell and Hawkridge were quick to respond. Harris sent a 30-yarder a foot wide but it was not just Keates pulling the strings as Russell and Leary began to pick the passes and find their range, leading to a throw on the right. Roma threw long, Stamp nodded on. Wilde headed into the 6-yard box. Hawkridge killed it with his right and powered home on the half volley with his left to give Maxwell no chance. Twenty-six on the clock and, with the 3 stand roofs one-hundred foot in the air above the Northolme, the dream’s pilot light flickered back into life.
Trinity were rampant. Yates tore down the right but Riley blocked for a corner. Hawkridge found the golden forehead of Stamp, who powered barely a yard wide. A Hawkridge free-kick saw Leary cleverly cushion, but Nelthorpe’s screamer was bravely headed off the line by Westwood. It was old-school end to end stuff now as the people’s game warts and all, embraces the senses and sent the pulses rasing. A Keates free kick was punched to the feet of the marauding Morrell. The old stager instinctively fired true, only to be brilliantly blocked by Hone. Clarke dinked it back in, Waterfall got enough on it, but Keates was there to send in a peach of a chip that Morrell headed a fivers breadth wide of the far post.
At half-time Housham sent on Barraclough for Nelthorpe and went 4-4-2, but in truth the ref was poor and gave everything to the visitors with Morrell permanently in his ear. Even when Waterfall was grounded at a corner and stretchered off he saw no evil in a red shirt. The second period continued to bubble but never quite boiled until Connor joined Barraclough and Stamp in an attacking holy Trinity on 71 at the expense of Yates. Could the gung-ho 4-3-3 give the Blues a way back in? Reborn babe in boots, Barraclough twisted and turned to win a throw. Roma’s incoming was half-cleared but Young played to Russell. His flick to Stamp was sublime, as the big man chested and flicked into the path of Barraclough’s surging run. Quick feet saw him grounded by Maxwell, but the penalty appeals were waved away in front of the travelling hordes.
A probing 40-yard free-kick from Hawkridge found Stamp who nodded back and amidst the confusion in the six-yard box Clarke forced his own keeper to brilliantly claw away for the corner. The driven set-piece saw Hone power a header a foot the wrong side of the far post. But the Dragons were very much at the dance. One-touch from Clarke, Hunt and Morrell forced Butz to bravely come and claim. His driven clearance hit Morrell, who was thankfully booked, as the rebound trickled into an empty net. Still one-one but fans of both sides were feeling their stomachs churn as the smell of tobacco gave way to the top quality half-time curried culinary wares.
Hunt then chipped a couple of foot over before Trinity stormed down the other end with a power and menace that showed they were far from finished. Leary, brilliantly, with 4 round him, twisted , turned and curled an 18 yarder, that took a deflection, just inside the post. Yessss! 2-1, the charismatic ground was shaken to its very foundations by the roar. The Town sensed that one more could force extra time and, with the wind behind them , all eyes were on the that Wembley prize. It was manic, frantic stuff now, no quarter asked nor given, played to the backdrop of a bear pit scene of yore. Danny Wright played in Ormerod, Hone was prone, but Young picked his pocket as the trigger twitched.
Roma arrowed in a throw, as good as any free-kick, Hone headed on and Barraclough brilliantly twisted and turned before prodding, agonising inches wide. A sublime 30-yard ball from Russell found Stamp. The no. 10 colossus headed to Leary, back to his Grimsby days of pomp and splendour, but Ashton somehow got in a last ditch block to deny him for a corner. Count them lad, count them. Hawkridge blitzed in the set-piece, Young rose to power goal-wards but Joe Clarke somehow headed off the line. The Dragons and their fans were really touching cloth now, as the rest of the Northolme were on their terrace tiptoes, trying to suck the third home.
Cieslewitz, mustered the magic, but Butz was down to his right to save and then claim. Time was of the essence in a who-dares-wins battle in a cacophany of noise to raise the hairs on the back of a saints neck. Trinity swarmed forward, Stamp headed into the 6-yard box and Connor headed goalward only for Maxwell to brilliantly palm over. Alas, that last ditch point blank save at the very death won it, as the ref blew straight after Hawkridge’s corner. The Welsh-folk raced onto the pitch to embrace their heroes as Trinity, meanwhile, took the plaudits from a growing fan-base that will undoubtedly come again. The play-offs beckon, although Lincolnshire pride will still be represented at Wembley as Grimsby take on the Dragons. The Mariners could take thrity thousand I hear, but then they have done a tad more than that before.
The Wembley dream may be over but those play-offs are still to come. Top dogs and big spending Chester, away, are the next opponents on Wednesday. Trinity have some big similarly spending adversaries to beat if they are to make the BSP next season. Then again, this developing side will give Trinity fans plenty to savour over the next few weeks, years and beyond. The owner, but soon to be ex-Chairman’s health may be failing, but his passion, desire and commitment to the cause is going nowhere. The fans chanted Peter Swan and their heroes at the start, they did so at the end. Good deeds and local pride are certainly prerequisites, but appreciated none the less, in these straight talking parts.