Match Report: Whaley Bridge Athletic 4-1 Rowsley '86
The game, which was played at the Proctor Cars Stadium, had an FA Cup-like feel about it as the two sides went head-to-head to see who could lift the Divisional Cup North trophy.
In the early stages of the game Whaley Bridge asserted their dominance and left a real footprint with their high-pressing style of football; limiting Rowsley’s time on the ball.
It was in the 16th minute when Whaley Bridge’s early pressure finally paid dividends, as Sam Leadbetter was brought down in the box leaving centre-back Bill Sutton to convert from 12-yards which he did with great aplomb.
The leaders didn’t slack off after the restart, as they pushed for a much deserved second.
The man who won the penalty – Sam Leadbetter would answer the Whaley Bridge fans’ prayers as his audacious flicked effort found the net; leaving Rowsley’s Matt Rhodes dumfounded.
To add insult to injury, the in-form Leadbetter struck six minutes from half-time as his volleyed effort found its way in to the far corner putting the game out of reach for Rowsley, it did seem.
After the break, Rowsley looked like a team on a mission; a team trying to rescue the game. It was an uphill task that was unlikely, but not impossible – something that manager Chris Baker would have been telling his players at half-time.
10 minutes in to the second-half Rowsley got their goal to put them firmly on the comeback trail - a corner floated in missing everybody, kissed the post and nestled into the back of the net.
Rowsley’s persistent pressure seemed to get into the Whaley Bridge players’ heads as 65 minutes in Dan Bridge was shown a red card, leaving Rowsley with a man advantage.
Dan Gilbride put the final nail in the coffin just one minute from time as his Beckham-esque effort ten feet inside Rowsley’s half looped over a helpless Matt Rhodes and into the net putting the game to bed.
Despite constant pressure to try and claw back the score line, and an improved second-half performance, it was not enough to cancel out Whaley Bridge’s four goals, and they left the Proctor Cars Stadium crowned champions of the Divisional Cup North for 2019.