Soccer AM/MW - the home of lively and humorous discussion from the Football and Non Leagues

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Talking Points - March

The lads always have plenty to say for themselves. Here's what's got them talking during March:

Without a Trace
A few months on from the event, Lakes looks at the demise of King's Lynn and the effect losing a local football club can have on a town.

Neil or No Neil?
With Neil Warnock's appointment as the new boss of QPR, Nobes weighs up the positives and negatives of the outspoken manager.

Rising In The East
After some barren years, Turls reports on the renaissance of the three premier teams in the East Midlands - Nottingham Forest, Leicester, and Derby.

Keith Alexander (1956-2010): A Tribute
Nobes pays tribute to the Macclesfield Town manager after his sad passing.

Championship Focus
The lads taken another look at the fight for promotion and the battle against relegation in the Championship.

League One Focus
Turning the spotlight on the big issues at both ends of League One: the race for the Championship and the fight to avoid the drop to League Two.

League Two Focus
Rounding up the latest events in the basement tier of the Football League. Who's gunning for promotion and who's fighting against the drop?

Conference Focus
The latest on the race for promotion to the Football League, and who's fighting it out to stay in the top division of Non League football.

An Unsurprising Turner Events
Nobes on why nobody should be surprised by the recent managerial change at Hereford United.

Conference North/South Focus
A round-up of what's occurring at both ends of the table in both of the regional divisions of the Conference.

Preston vs. Forest: Top Trumps
Ahead of their teams facing one another, Lakes and Turls engage in a spot of Top Trumps to determine who will win the Soccer AM/MW derby.

The Rise of Phoenixes
After Chester and Farsley are forced out of business, Nobes reflects on the appearance and success stories of phoenix clubs.

Grounds for Moving
Why is there a growing trend for clubs at all levels to abandon their traditional homes and move to new purpose built arenas? Nobes investigates.

City give Johnson the Gate
After Bristol City part company with boss Gary Johnson, Nobes suggests clubs should have more patience with previously successful managers.

Tough at the Bottom?
After struggling Darlington fire manager Steve Staunton, Nobes looks at other examples of top flight players trying their hand at lower league management.

JPT Week
All the build-up to the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final between Carlisle United and Southampton.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
Nobes explains why statistics in football can be very misleading, and highlights some of this term's anomalies which threaten to break records.

With the clocks going forward, the lads take a satirical look at some of the stories that might - or probably won't - be occurring around the divisions 12 months from now.

Big Match Preview

League Two
Grimsby Town vs. Northampton Town
Friday April 2, 19:45, Blundell Park

Grimsby Town continue their fight against relegation from League Two on Friday evening as they host a Northampton side chasing a place in the play-offs.

With eight games remaining, the Mariners are four points adrift of safety and see their 99-year stay in the Football League firmly in the balance.

It's the result of a disastrous season that has seen them in the bottom two since September. That poor start cost Mike Newell his job, and Town replaced him with youth team coach Neil Woods.

Unfortunately for Woods, it took him 26 games to record a victory in a run that, despite securing plenty of draws, broke a club record for consecutive winless games.

However, recent form has re-ignited survival hopes that appeared forlorn a few weeks ago. The Lincolnshire club are unbeaten on home soil in their last four games - including winning the last two.

They were secured over high-flying Bournemouth and top seven hopefuls Shrewsbury, so Grimsby will be confident of adding to their good recent record at Blundell Park in their remaining home games.

They'll be pinning their hopes on the experienced front duo of Lee Peacock and Barry Conlon to find the goals which can find them the wins they desperately need.

Northampton have risen up League Two in 2010 under Ian Sampson

A game against in-form Northampton is likely to present a difficult challenge to the Mariners though.

With five wins and a draw in their last six games, Cobblers, along with table topping Rochdale, are the form side in League Two.

Indeed, under former playing legend Ian Sampson, it's been a fantastic run of form from the Sixfields outfit. Before last weekend's draw at Lincoln, they had won five games on the bounce.

It's what's propelled them from the 18th position they occupied at the start of 2010, to their current standing of 8th - just a point off the play-offs.

The stand-out man up front for Cobblers is the much-travelled Bayo Akinfenwa, whose 15 goals have been an important factor behind their rise up the division.

The impressive Ryan Gilligan has also chipped in with 11 goals, and that pair will need to be kept quiet if Northampton are to be stopped from continuing their fine run of form.

Both sides will be desperate for all three points therefore, and a draw isn't much good for either. For that reason, it could be quite an open affair with goals at either end. It may well be yet another draw for Grimsby though.

Nobes' Prediction: Grimsby Town 2 Northampton Town 2

Conference North: March

Just one more month of the Conference North season remains, here's what happened during March in our featured division.

Celtic go out of business

Farsley Celtic sadly lost their battle against financial problems as the club was officially disbanded earlier in the month.

The West Yorkshire side entered administration in September with debts of around £750,000 and were close to going to the wall.

However, they were unable to avert that fate this time around when a deal to take over the club by a local consortium fell through.

The club had been unable to play recent fixtures to their troubles and were officially removed from the Conference North. Their record against other sides this term has now been expunged.

Farsley fans hope a new club will reform in next season's Unibond Division One North.

Tight for the title

The race for the Conference North title and one automatic promotion place looks like going to the wire after Fleetwood Town and Southport both continued their good form.

Town picked up 13 points from their five matches, while the Sandgrounders picked up the same amount from seven games. They now lie just two points behind Fleetwood - with a game in hand.

Elsewhere, in the race for the play-offs, Alfreton continued their strong recent run, but it was a poor month for Hinckley. The Knitters lost twice at home in four games - including against a resurgent Workington.

Indeed, the Cumbrian outfit have emerged as late contenders for the top five, gaining three away wins and 14 points altogether during a very productive March.

Top of the table:

Fleetwood Town.....35....36....73
Alfreton Town........33.....24....57
5. Hinckley United......35.....6.....54
AFC Telford...........35.....2......51

Two little, two late for struggling pair

With Farsley having gone out of business and the league reduced to just 21 teams, only two teams will now be demoted.

Unfortunately for fans of Harrogate and Vauxhall Motors, it looks increasingly likely that their teams will be the ones to drop.

Motors picked up four points from their five games during March - ironically all of them in their double header against Cheshire rivals Northwich Victoria.

Harrogate picked up just a single point - courtesy of their 3-3 draw with Ilkeston - and remain rock bottom.

In contrast to the bottom two, Gloucester - the side just above the drop zone - picked up eight points, including a win against Vauxhall in a crucial six pointer.

Good recent runs also saw previous strugglers Gainsborough and Redditch pull well clear of relegation danger.

Bottom of the table:

18. Stafford............35...-12....36
Vauxhall Motors..36..-37....28
21. Harrogate Town..32...-31...23

More news from the Conference North at the end of the month in our review of all the action in April.

And we'll be taking another look at the state of play in the division during our monthly report on all the divisions.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


With the clocks going forward at the weekend, the lads flash-forward 12 months with a satirical look at some of the headlines that might be coming from the Football and Non Leagues a year from now.

'In League One, Peterborough announce the appointment of their eighth manager of the season. Darren Ferguson returns to the club after being usurped by his father at Preston earlier in the campaign.

North End had loaned so many of Manchester United's stars that PNE chairman Derek Shaw took the drastic step of loaning in Sir Alex to help their battle against relegation too.'

'There was more bad news for Rochdale fans who missed their side's important Easter weekend games.

Bemused supporters turned up at Aldershot and Burton under the assumption that their club was still playing in League Two.

Dale had left the basement division for the first time in 175 years but fans refused to accept the promotion had actually happened.

'Conference club Kettering announce they've parted company with manager Paul Simpson after less than a year in the role. It came after Simpson launched a scathing broadside of the club tea lady's performance:

"I work on the training ground all week. We plot the tactics and work on our set-pieces. I'm doing everything I can as a manager to put together a winning team.

However, when it comes to the half-time refreshments. When we need a power-boost to help us recover from our 2-0 deficit at the break, and when the players need something to distract them from me criticising them - I'm being let down.

"The tea lady at Rockingham Road has been letting this club down for years. It's come to the point where either she goes, or I go."

Kettering also announce that tea lady Barbara Milton has signed a new five-year deal with the club.'

Simpson tells Babs how many sugars he wants in his half time cuppa

'Milton Keynes's struggles in League One continue. The Dons are without a manager after the bitter ex-Blackburn boss Paul Ince left for Burnley determined to prove Rovers wrong.

With AFC Wimbledon currently top of the Conference, the Football League are already gearing themselves up for a potential meet-up between the two sides who rose from the ashes of the old Wimbledon.

Comedian Harry Hill has been signed-up to referee a scrap between the two clubs' mascots on the pitch at half time. "I like Milton Keynes, but I also like AFC Wimbledon," says the
TV Burp host.'

'Having returned to the club, QPR owner Flavio Briatore proposes to the Football League that his club be able to play their home games in Formula One cars and on tarmac.

The proposal comes after QPR sack their third manager of the month. Briatore, formerly involved with F1, suggests that, instead of changing his personnel, he would change the way in which the game is played.

The Football League initially seem delighted with the revolutionary thinking but negotiations come to a standstill when they argue over whether the players should wear helmets.

'Nottingham Forest boss Billy Davies calls on the club's board to open up the purse strings more to boost the club's promotion push.

Forest sit 18 points clear at the top of the Championship, but the Scot is still playing down their chances of securing a return to the Premier League.

"People say Billy Davies likes to play down Billy Davies's side's chances. But Billy Davies knows that his squad is still too young and threadbare for the run-in," says Davies.

'Accrington Stanley announce they've secured additional tickets for their appearance at Wembley in the JPT Final.

Stanley sold out their initial allocation of 2,000 and have been granted 500 more tickets for Sunday's final.

The Football League say they are quietly confident of a 'record breaking attendance' for the showdown between Stanley and Dagenham & Redbridge.'

Accrington and Dagenham fans are in town

'After losing his first five games in charge, conceding 27 goals in the process, John Barnes is sacked as manager of Hereford United. The United board say they feel it's time for a new man to take the Bulls by the horns.

On his appointment, Barnes had claimed: "Football is entering a new age, and I promise Hereford will be part of that age."

Unhappy with his sacking, Barnes says he wasn't given enough time and amid ugly scenes he stages a one-man protest outside Edgar Street accusing his former employers of racism.

He says: "I was building a project and have yet again been a victim of racism. I should be given another chance to prove that I am a quality manager, regardless of the colour of my skin. If I was white and got the same results, I would have been offered the Manchester United by now."

Hereford refuse to comment and apologise to nearby residents who complain about the noise made by Barnes in the stadium car park.

'Sol Campbell signs a seven year deal with Non League club Bamber Bridge.'

'Notts County become the first team to be mathematically relegated following an abysmal season. The club failed to pay wages and entered administration in November - losing 10 points in the process.

After failing to pick up a single point all season, the club find themselves relegated faster than virtually any other team in history.'

'Boston United become the first team to play in space. The Skyrockets take their nickname to a new level as they become the first team to lose a football to the outer limits.

In a league game against Nantwich, Boston striker Spencer Weir-Daley becomes the first ever footballer to kick a ball into space.

United, renowned for their route one football style, say they're delighted to be the first club to achieve such a feat.

Boston unveil their new team coach

And we won't check back in a year's time to see whether we were right or not.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

With the end of the season approaching, Nobes looks at how statistics in football can often be misleading.

League One leaders Norwich hold the division's record for this term's heaviest defeat

There's a famous saying that likens statisitcs to bikinis - they reveal a lot, but not everything. The truth is, in football, statistics can be very misleading.

It's a point well illustrated when taking a glance through the divisions this season.

As surprising as some of them might be, there's a real chance new records will be established come the end of the current campaign.

Take League One pacesetters Norwich, for example. The Canaries are well on course for an automatic return to the Championship following relegation last season.

Their lead at the top stands at a very healthy 11 points with just eight games left. However, could they become the first side to win a division despite having suffered the heaviest defeat that term?

Their opening day 7-1 collapse to Colchester seems more remarkable with every passing game. It remains the biggest loss in League One this term though, and it's hard to see anyone topping it.

Towards the bottom of the same league, an interesting scenario could be panning out at Gillingham. The Kent club, who were League Two's play-off winners last season, are battling against an instant return to the basement division.

That fight has been hindered by an away record that sees them the only side yet to win on the road in League One.

However, their form at the Priestfield has been very impressive - and their record of conceding just 11 home goals is the league's joint best.

Despite this miserly record though, they are hovering dangerously above the bottom four. Could they become the first side to go down despite having their division's tightest home defence?

It wouldn't be the first time a side has been punished despite their defensive strength. In 2007/8's Championship, Leicester ended the season in the bottom three despite having the second best defensive record in the division.

The Foxes conceded just 45 goals - less than one per game - but their attacking flaws meant they weren't good enough to avoid the drop.

It's exactly defensive strength though which has been the bedrock of Swansea's success in the same division this term. The Welsh club have conceded a paltry 31 goals to date.

However, their goals for column stands at just 33 - the lowest in this term's Championship. Paulo Sousa's men have built their impressive campaign firmly from the back.

Just six goals, but Darren Pratley is 5th placed Swansea's top scorer this season

That statistic suggests that conceding goals, not failing to score them, is the greatest barrier to success. Not so though.
For instance, in the 2004/5 League Two campaign, Cambridge United conceded 62 goals compared to Yeovil's 65.

That doesn't sound too remarkable until you realise that Cambridge finished bottom of the division and the Glovers top. Defensive solidity was never at the forefront of how Gary Johnson's team played.

Another of Johnson's former teams, Bristol City, also throw up a misleading statistic this term. The Westcountry club could probably count themselves unfortunate to be out of the play-off running this season.

That's because only the five teams - all of them in the top six - have lost fewer matches than City's 12 this season. It's a total matched by Ipswich who, despite struggling all term, have remained tough to beat.

In both of their cases, it's been draws which have really damaged their hopes - 34 between the pair of them.

It's a statistic which leads credence to the theory a place in the play-offs is perfectly attainable on a wins to losses ratio of 2:1.

That is to say, you can lose 15 or 16 games a season and still make the play-offs.

League Two Chesterfield are proof it works. The Derbyshire club are looking good for the top seven and a shot in the end of season lottery. However, they've already lost 15 games.

In last season's Conference too, Champions Burton lost more matches than any of the top five - but their 27 wins carried them to the title.

It seems then that, even if seeing your team win one week and lose the next transports you from the heights of joy to the depths of despair - it's actually better for your long term prospects than your team collecting two draws and remaining undefeated

Indeed, Paul Sturrock, the former Plymouth and Sheffield Wednesday manager, was once quoted as saying: "I hate draws - draws kill you." A tad excessive, but you get the idea.

Of course, win, lose, or draw, the way statistics can be manipulated makes studying them too hard pretty irrelevant. Indeed, they can often be the last resort of the bad manager to hide behind.

After all, a run of three defeats in 17 games actually sounds quite promising. Unfortunately, it was part of a 25 winless run this season for League Two strugglers Grimsby.

That probably sums up the entire argument more than anything else. When it comes to statistics, only one column really counts - and that's the number of points.

Monday, March 29, 2010

JPT Final - Carlisle United 1 Southampton 4

Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final
Carlisle United 1-4 Southampton
Sunday March 28, Wembley, (Att: 73,476)

A dominant display by Southampton swept aside Carlisle to secure the South Coast club victory in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final.

It was bad luck on the Cumbrians, whose own errors contributed to their downfall, but two goals in either half ensured Alan Pardew's men were always in control.

United began the stronger of the two teams - committed to finding the first goal - and had a decent shout for a penalty turned down.

Ian Harte's dangerous in-swinging free-kick forced Kelvin Davies into action, but Graham Kavanagh appeared to be man-handled in the box by Dan Harding.

However, it was a defensive error at the other end which gave the Hampshire club a chance to take the lead. Peter Murphy inexplicably handling the ball when jumping to meet a cross from Michail Antonio.

The referee was left with no choice, and up stepped top scorer Rickie Lambert to smash home the penalty and give Southampton the lead a quarter of an hour in.

Boosted by their goal, Saints began to take control and could have soon doubled their advantage. Carlisle keeper Adam Collin having to be quick to react to Adam Lallana's shot after a long-throw had caused panic in the United box.

Carlisle responded and were unfortunate not to get back on level terms when Harte's header from a Matty Robson cross struck the top of the crossbar.

However, it was Southampton who, just before the break, found the next goal. Another long throw from Antonio was flicked on by Lambert and Lallana stole in at the back post to nod home.

Five minutes into the second half and the game was up for the Cumbrians as Saints scored their third. A quick breakaway allowed Lambert to cross for Antonio and, despite Collin saving his first shot, Ndiaye Papa Waigo was on hand to head in the rebound.

Antonio wasn't be denied a goal of his own though and, after Carlisle had failed to deal with a long ball forward, he picked up the ball on the edge of the area and fired low past Collin.

Greg Abbott's side did pull one goal back - substitute Gary Madine sending a flashing header past Davies from a Harte free-kick. It was some consolation for Carlisle - making a record fifth appearance in the final of this competition.

There was still enough time for the irrepressible Lambert to test Collin from long-range with a free-kick of his own, but this time the keeper came out on top.

However, it was Lambert and Southampton's day, as they secured their first win at Wembley since 1976 in their debut year in the JPT. Saints fans will hope it is the beginning of a bright new era at St. Mary's.

Southampton celebrate their Johnstone's Paint Trophy success at Wembley

Big Match Revew - Plymouth 0 Blackpool 2

Plymouth Argyle 0-2 Blackpool
Saturday March 27, Home Park, (Att: 10,614)

Two goals in four second half minutes were enough for Blackpool to keep alive their play-off ambitions and put a big dent in Plymouth's Championship survival hopes.

The home side had the better of the opportunities in the first period and arguably should have taken the lead.

Bradley Wright-Phillips twice denied by a combination of goalkeeper and defence after some good work on the right hand side by Jamie Mackie.

Pool improved after the interval though and were infortunate not to go in-front when Charlie Adam's curling effort from outside the box struck the upright and bounced away to safety.

However, the Lancashire side's top scorer wasn't to be denied his 16th goal of the season. Adam picked up a neat backheel from Stephen Dobbie to fire the ball low past David Stockdale in the Plymouth goal.

That was with just 12 minutes remaining, and not long after the Seasiders had sealed the points. This time Adam's ball through unleashing Dobbie to cooly smash home.

The game was up for Plymouth - who look increasingly likely to be relegated. However, a happy return to Home Park keeps Ian Holloway and Blackpool in touch with the top six.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Prediction League Week 34

It was a positive Week 33 for leader Nobes who saw his advantage at the top of the Prediction League stretched to six points.

That gap appears bridgeable for Turls. However, with Lakes now ten points off the summit, time appears to be running out for the oldest member of the crew to get himself back into contention.

Things could all change very quickly though and this weekend sees Preston and Boston in action on Saturday and Forest waiting until Monday evening to come into play.

Preston North End vs. QPR

Lakes: PNE 3-1 QPR

North Ferriby United vs. Boston United

Lakes: North Ferriby United 0-2 Skyrockets
North Ferriby United 1-2 Skyrockets
North Ferriby United 1-2 Skyrockets

Newcastle United vs. Nottingham Forest

Newcastle United 2-0 Forest
Newcastle United 2-0 Forest
Newcastle United 1-0 Forest

JPT Final: Preview

In the concluding day of our JPT Week here on Soccer AM/MW, Turls looks ahead to this weekend's final.

Everyone writes off the Johnstone's Paint Trophy as a joke competition but for a time, it looked like it was going to be final that was worthy of a 1970's FA Cup final.

Leeds United and Southampton were the two clubs who were heavily favoured to make it an all ex-Premier League final.

They both looked relatively comfortable as they sauntered their way to their respective regional finals but penalties at Brunton Park meant that Carlisle United ruined the Football League's dreams of a huge Wembley crowd.

Now, I'm not saying that Carlisle and Southampton won't take a lot of fans to London but no-one can deny that it would have been a completely different situation had Leeds made it to the JPT final.

Still, let's not dwell too much on the past and who could have made the final.

Instead, let's prepare for a football feast as the Cumbrians prepare to take on the Saints in the greatest club competition that involves teams from League One and League Two.

We all know how Carlisle beat Leeds in the Northern Final - and if you don't, I can't quite fathom out why you're reading this article - but it could have been a very different story had Morecambe not buckled under pressure.

Carlisle boss Greg Abbott is hoping to spring a surprise win on Sunday

In Carlisle's opening fixture, they were taken to penalties by the seaside club after a 2-2 draw. Eventually, the Cumbrians progressed to the next round but it was a nervy beginning to the campaign.

After that shaky beginning, it was pretty simple for the North West club. They thumped four past Macclesfield Town and then scored three past Chesterfield and Bradford City.

It was relatively free-scoring campaign that saw them score 16 goals in six games.

Carlisle were very fortunate that they avoided League One opposition all the way to the regional final because Southampton were not granted the same amount of luck.

The Saints got off to an identical start to their JPT Final opponents. A 2-2 draw against seaside opposition - in the seagull shape of Torquay United - forced the game to penalties.

Southampton progressed and were faced with the tough task of playing Charlton Athletic.

A 2-1 victory over the Addicks did nothing to ease the pain as they were drawn with the best side still in the competition in the shape of Norwich City.

It was a tight game which went to penalties after a nervy 2-2 draw. The Saints went through to the Southern Final, where they would meet the MK Dons.

After the difficult of the previous rounds, the Southern Final was relatively comfortable for Southampton and the progressed to the JPT Final thanks to a 4-1 aggregate win.

Rickie Lambert is Southampton's main goal threat

So who is going to win?

Well, Southampton are looking in great nick at the moment and have got a good team and a good manager.

They should have the experience of playing in a large stadium - although St Mary's is nothing like Wembley - and they will go into the game as favourites.

Rickie Lambert has been his typical free-scoring self and should be a real handful for the Carlisle defence.

However, with smart money going on the South Coast club, the pressure of being expected to win might takes its toll on the players and they may very well crumble when it matters most.

It would be foolish to count out Carlisle - as they proved in the Northern Final. They are a resilient team who are capable of playing good football and should be a real threat.

They go into the game as underdogs and this could benefit them as it should allow the team to play with freedom and no pressure.

The worry is that they can concede goals for fun away from home. Although they have tightened up at the back, they still look susceptible to a player with class and this could cost them against the likes of Lambert.

All in all, I think this is going to be a game that is open from kick-off and will definitely have a few goals in it. Now you don't get that in an FA Cup Final do you?

Turls' Prediction: Southampton 3 Carlisle United 1

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Classic JPT Finals

As we look forward to Sunday's JPT Final, Nobes takes a look back at classic JPT Finals of years gone by.

While many competitions seem to have an anti-climax in their Finals, the Johnstone's Paint Trophy bucks the trend. Thrilling, high-scoring events have often been the order of the day, and we can only hope this weekend's delivers more of the same.

Here are some of the past great finals of the Football League's most prestigious competition.


Luton Town 3-2 Scunthorpe United (AET)

Bottom of the entire Football League Luton Town staged one of the biggest upsets in the competition's history in beating Scunthorpe in last season's final.

The Bedfordshire club, starting relegation to the Conference in the face after a 30 point deduction, were facing an Iron team gunning for promotion to the Championship.

They also got off to a nightmare start when United striker Gary Hooper found the back of the net after just 14 minutes.

Luton responded though and Chris Martin equalised just after the hour mark, and the Hatters were on course for victory with Tom Craddock's second half volley.

However, with time running out, the Lincolnshire side were level with a stunning strike from midfielder Grant McCann.

The two sides were forced into an extra half an hour's play and it was Town's substitute striker Claude Gnapka who lifted the ball over Scunthorpe keeper Joe Murphy to seal the extra time win.

Bristol Rovers 2-3 Doncaster Rovers (AET)

Doncaster continued their renaissance with a stunning JPT Final win against Bristol Rovers in the last final held at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium

The South Yorkshire side got off to the perfect start when Jonathan Forte fired them ahead after just 43 seconds. Just four minutes later they were 2-0 ahead - Paul Heffernan latching onto a long ball forward to double their lead.

However, the Gas fought back in the second half and, after Richard Walker's penalty had reduced the arrears, Sammy Igoe's half-volley levelled matters.

That meant the game went into extra time and it was Doncaster who summoned up the strength to take the lead and eventually the trophy. Graeme Lee meeting Sean Thornton's corner to head the Vikings to glory.


Southend United 0-2 Wrexham

Financially striken Wrexham put their woes behind them as two extra time goals were enough to beat Southend United.

The Welsh club, who had entered administration not soon before and been deducted 10 points for their troubles, were facing a Southend side who would go on to win promotion from League Two in May.

It was no surprise that the final was a tight one therefore. Juan Ugarte went narrowly wide for the Red Dragons, and United responded with Spencer Prior's powerful header being well saved.

The teams continued to trade blows in the second half but, with neither side making the breakthrough, the game was forced into extra time.

Wrexham stepped up their game and took the lead when Ugarte headed home a corner. The Essex club searched for a leveller, but were caught on the break when Darren Ferguson poked home Wrexham's second.

It provided a rare moment of joy for the troubled club's fans when their points deduction would prove decisive in their demotion to League Two.


Grimsby Town 2-1 Bournemouth (AET)

The first ever own goal scored by a goalkeeper helped Alan Buckley's Grimsby Town win the Auto Windscreens Shield as these two clubs made their debut appearances at Wembley.

John Bailey had given the Cherries a first half lead, and the cash-strapped club appeared to be on their way to a fairytale win. However, with fifteen minutes remaining, Town equalised.

A cross into the box was met by Kingsley Black whose header deflected in off the keeper's leg for the equaliser.

The goals panel later put the strike down as an own-goal on behalf of the goalkeeper - a certain Jimmy Glass. They obviously thought he'd never write himself into history any other way...

The Mariners, boosted by the goal, went on to win the game in extra time. Wayne Burnett's volley from a corner was the Golden Goal to bring the trophy back to Lincolnshire.


Birmingham City 1-0 Carlisle United (AET)

Birmingham City made Wembley history with the national stadium's first ever Golden Goal to settle the 1995 Auto Windscreens Final.

The Blues, who would also win promotion back to the second tier in the same season, were the strong favourites against plucky Carlisle, but toiled throughout the match.

Rod Thomas missed a glorious chance for the Cumbrians and Steve Claridge hit the post for City in normal time, but with the match remained scoreless after 90 minutes, forcing extra time.

Then 13 minutes into the additional time a cross into the box was glanced on by Paul Tait [right] leaving the Carlisle keeper with no chance, and the Shield in the hands of the Midlanders.

Wembley history had been made.