FA Trophy Final
North Ferriby United 3 Wrexham 3 (AET)
Ferriby win 5-4 on penalties
North Ferriby United, FA Trophy winners 2015. It sounds unbelievable but it’s happened and The Villagers were worthy winners in a pulsating Final at Wembley.
Manager Billy Heath summed it up in one word, “Wow!” And what a way for him and his Assistant Manager, Mark Carroll, to celebrate their 700th game as a managerial team.
This was one of the most exciting games ever seen at either the old Wembley Stadium or the current one. The victory capped a tremendous fightback by Ferriby. The Villagers were 2-0 down with 14 minutes to play and looked as though the Trophy was going to Wales.
However a Liam King penalty saw Ferriby reduce the deficit and from that point The Villagers were in control. But would the equalioser come. It was nailbiting but substitute Ryan Kendall equalised and, Danny Clarke almost won the game in the dying moments but Wrexham keeper Andy Coughlin produced a superb save.
So extra-time. Ten minutes in and Ferriby silenced the Wrexham supporters and sent their own delirious when Kendall headed The Villagers in front.
With the big Wembley screens showing the end of extra-time approaching, Russell Moult broke Ferriby hearts with an equaliser.
Penalties: surely Ferriby couldn’t succeed again after winning the semi-final in the same manner. Of course, they could. Nathan Peat scored what proved to be the crucial penalty but once again, keeper Adam Nicklin proved the main hero, saving three of Wrexham’s six penalties. Amazingly, Nicklin was injured and should probably not have played. He was in agony after the game, not that you would have known that from the speed of his celebration!
Cue celebrations. Ferriby’s fans may have been outnumbered three to win but there was only one group of fans making any noise as the Wrexham fans streamed out of the stadium before the presentations.
So back to the beginning of the game. Ferriby started brightly with no sign of nerves winning a free-kick and a corner but not managing to find the net from either.
Wrexham’s first goal attempt came on eight minutes when Kieron Morris fired a shot over the bar.
Wrexham were having the better of the game by now and looked threatening nearly every time they attacked. They took the lead after 11 minutes. Connor Jennings broke down the right before squaring the ball to Louis Moult, whose low shot found its way into the net with Nicklin getting a hand to it but not, unfortunately, managing to keep it out.
Opportunities were few and far between for The Villagers, though they did create a half-chance on 29 minutes. Adam Bolder’s free kick caused confusion in the Wrexham area and Danny Hone came close to equalising as he charged down a clearance from a Wrexham defender.
Two minutes later, had an even better chance. Danny Clarke raced onto a long pass and carried the ball into the box before firing a left-footed shot straight at Andy Coughlin from a tight angle.
Ferriby were growing in stature and a few minutes later referee Michael Oliver waved away a penalty claim after a Jason St cross seemed to strike the hand of a Wrexham defender.
Ferriby were now getting more in to the game but could have little complaint at being one down as the half-time whistle went. Wrexham created a couple of openings before the first half, which Ferriby dealt with without too much fuss.
The Villagers started the second half in a higher gear. Man-of-the-match St Juste broke down the left but keeper Coughlin managed to take the ball off the winger’s toes.
Wrexham should have doubled their lead after 51 minutes. Connor Jennings picked up a ball on the edge of the Ferriby area, rounded Nicklin and slid the ball goalward only for Danny Hone to clear the ball off the line. Jennings was probably disappointed not to score but Hone deserves credit for a superb piece of defensive work.
Wrexham did make it two after 59 minutes. Jay Harris, who had been off the pitch injured, was not picked up by the Ferriby players and he had time and space on the right before firing past Nicklin from 10 yards.
For many, it looked as if the game was over. However, those who have been following Ferriby’s trophy run knew that this tyeam never knows when to give up.
Wrexham were syilllooking the more threatening and
Jennings almost added a third on 65 minutes but dragged his shot narrowly wide.
The Villagers kept looking for a goal and almost pulled one back on 72 minutes. St Juste’s corner was headed just over the bar by Hone.
The breakthrough came after 76 minute. Danny Clarke latched on a defensive error only to be brought down by Coughlin almost in the centre of the goal. Oliver pointed to the spot and, perhaps rather surprisingly only showed a yellow card to the keeper. Captain Liam King made no mistake from 12 yards, firing the ball high into the top left corner.
Could The Villagers do it?
The introduction of Ryan Kendall after 81 minutes was one of thiose game-changing substitutions. “As a manager, you make these types of decisions. When they go well you look like a genius, when they go wrong you look like a fool,” commented Heath. Well Billy Heath is nobody’s fool.
Five minutes after coming on Kendall had equalised to the delight of The Villagers’ fans and officials. St Juste, agai, found space on the left and picked out Kendall, who scored with a shot on the turn.
There was a feeling now that there would be only one winner., especially with Wrexham fans actually booing their own players. They should have learned from Ferriby’s Green and White Army who never stopped believing throughout the game.
Could Ferriby do the unbelievable and fins a winner inside the 90 minutes? Danny Clarke almost did. His dipping effort from 25 yards out required a fingertip save from Coughlin moments from the end.
As the 90minutes finished Wrexham looked shell-shocked. They had had the game won in their minds and now they were struggling to hang in there.
Ferriby picked up from where they left off, with St Juste again causing problems for the Wrexham defence
In the 100th minute, the apparently impossible happene. Ferriby climaxed a remarkable comeback by taking the lead. St Juste was yet again the architect. His deflected cross reached Kendall who flicked a header low past Coughlin.
Was the fairytale going to come true?
Wrexham ccame close to an equaliser after 110 minutes. Substitute Andy Bishop looked to have broken clear of the Ferriby defence, only for Hone to produce a superb last-ditch challenge to deny him.
With the clock running down and Ferriby looking as if they might just hold on, Moult pounced to drive home his second and his side’s third just two minutes before the final whistle.
It would be penalties that would decide the contest, with Nicklin the hero just as he was in the semi-final. Would Wrexham’s late equaliser affect the Ferriby player’s confidence? Not a chance!
Nathan Peat netted the crucial penalty after King, Jarman and Matt Wilson had also scored from the spot. St Juste and Tom Denton saw their efforts saved by Coughlin but it didn’t matter.
Nicklin saved spot kicks from Connor Jennings, Neil Ashton and Steve Tomassen to earn Ferriby a first ever success in the competition.
Ferriby had done it with one of the most remarkable come-backs in Wembley history. They are the first former FA Vase finalist to claim the FA Trophy. A remarkable achievement for a club with such limited resources.
Chairman Les Hare was absolutely delighted, “At 2-0 down and with not long left to play I was beginning to think the dream was over. But these players never know when they are beaten and once Liam scored with the penalty it looked like an equaliser would come.
“To be in front in extra-time and watching the clock count down was nerve-wracking. The Wrexham equaliser was heart-breaking. But credit to the players. They didn’t let it affect them as we went into penalties. And what can you say about the shoot-out? Once again, Adam (Nicklin) was tremendous but credit has to be given to all the players.”
Ferriby manager Billy Heath commented, “To be honest, at 2-0 I thought that was probably it. But once we got a goal back with Liam’s penalty we took control. The players were tremendous and there only looked likely to be one winner after we equalised.
”The players did me, themselves and the Club proud Adam Nicklin will make the headlines but they were all heroes today.”
North Ferriby: NFU: Adam Nicklin, Sam Topliss, Josh Wilde (Nathan Peat 89, Liam King, Matt Wilson, Danny Hone, Danny Clarke (82), Russ Fry (Ryan Kendall 80),, Tom Denton, Adam Bolder (Nathan Jarman 61), Jason St. Juste Subs not used: Mark Gray Tom Nicholson,
Wrexham: Andy Coughlin, Neil Ashton, Manny Smith, Blaine Hudson, Joe Clarke, Jay Harris, Louis Moult, Dean Keates, Steve Tomassen, Connor Jennings,Kieron Morris. Subs: Evans, York, Bishop. Subs not used: Mark Carrington; Luke Waterfall