PLUCKY Wyresdale Rangers’ cup dreams were dashed on Wednesday night as they lost out 5-1 to Plungington Celtic in the Syndidate Trust President’s Cup Final - but not before giving their illustrious opponents a real scare at the QED Stadium.
Plungington may be riding high in the LEP Sunday League first division - they need just four points from their remaining three games to clinch the title - while Wyresdale are 30 places below them, lying fifth in divison three, but for 68 minutes of this game the Scorton-based Sunday league side stood toe-to-toe with Celtic.
Prior to the kick off few people would have given Wyresdale much of a chance against opponents that have have already won promotion to the premier division.
And so it seemed when Mark Wane rounded the Wyresdale keeper after just eight minutes to give Plungington the lead.
But if Joe Kelly’s lads thought they were in for an easy ride they had underestimated the Rangers side, which had already despatched one division 1 side in the semi-final when they overcame Station East End.
In front of around 100 supporters that had travelled from Scorton and Garstang to Bamber Bridge’s ground to cheer them on, Wyresdale were first denied what they thought was a clear penalty, then hit an equaliser after 31 minutes when Andrew Norris finished off a slick move at the back post.
Plungington were certainly creating plenty of chances and only some inspired work by ‘keeper and Wyresdale’s man-of-the-match Bryan Berry kept the higher league at bay.
The first 20 minutes of the second half was pretty much all Wyresdale and the likelihood of a major upset looked a possibility until Marc Mullen put Plungington back ahead in the 68th minute after one effort had been cleared off the line.
And this goal was the turning point in the game as Plungington’s superior fitness and experience began to show.
Man-of-the-match Ged Smith made it 3-1 on 75 minutes with a free kick from 22 yards, before Wyresdale almost gave themselves a lifeline with a stunning lob from the half-way line by David Jack that had the Celtic keeper scrambling.
Jamie Quan soon made it 4-1 on 79 minutes and substitute Matt Billington completed the scoring two minutes from time.
In between these two late strikes Wyresdale had another glimpse of goal when substitute Jack Robinson went close with a diving header.
After the match Jack Robinson said the Wyresdale team had “done themselves proud.’’
He added: “In the end they were just fitter and stronger than us, but it was a great experience for us and gives us great belief.
“We’d like to thank everyone who came to support us, it was brilliant to hear them singing for us even when we were 4-1 down. We would also like to thank our manager, Lee Stothert, our chairman and main sponsor Phil Whittaker of Whittaker Haulage, and the Brockholes Arms for putting on food for us every Sunday.’’