Proud day for Northumberland as FA Vase comes back to the North East
It's a proud day for Northumberland as Morpeth Town FC clinched victory in the FA Vase final at Wembley.
The Highway Men lifted the trophy after they produced an unbelievable Non-League Finals Day shock, beating favourites Hereford 4-1.
However, they did not make things easy for themselves after the allowed Hereford the perfect start in just the second minute of the game.
Joe Tumelty weaved a neat ball into the path of Rob Purdie. He was given space to strike by the Morpeth defence and fired home into the bottom corner of Karl Dryden’s goal from 20 yards out.
The Bulls nearly doubled their advantage in the fourth minute, when a neat interchange between Sirdic Grant and Pablo Haysham played Grant in around the back, but Dryden made a smart stop to keep the score at 1-0.
Hereford continued to keep the pressure on and had another great chance to score when Haysham found space inside the box to meet Mike Symons’s cross, but his header was well saved by Dryden.
The Morpeth keeper was forced into another save again just moments later when Tumelty connected well with another Symons cross. Dryden tipped around the post and Haysham’s bicycle kick from the resulting corner went just a couple of yards wide.
Morpeth then started to claw their way back into the match and on the 16th minute they saw their first sight on goal. Some neat work down the left put the ball into the path of Sean Taylor, who made room in the 18-yard-box, but his shot was well saved by Martin Horsell.
Hereford then regained control of proceedings and should have doubled their advantage once again.
Grant troubled the Highway Men’s back four with some neat footwork on the right wing, after picking up a loose ball, before crashing his shot onto the crossbar from the edge of the area.
Then another golden chance came for Pablo Haysham just seconds later when he was gifted an opportunity just outside the six-yard-box. Symons threaded a pass through to him from the left wing, but he tamely mis-hit his shot and Morpeth were again let off the hook.
The Highway Men then had themselves another rare glimpse on goal on the half hour mark. Some intricate team passing found Ben Sayer in space about 25 yards from goal, but his strike went tantalisingly over the top of the bar.
Sign up to our daily newsletter
Morpeth then made their pressure count and levelled on the 34th minute when Sayer’s corner, created by some hard work by Taylor was whipped over everyone’s head, including Hereford keeper Horsell, and Chris Swailes was given room at the back post to chest the ball into the open goal and in doing so wrote his name in the history books as the oldest ever player to score in a Wembley final.
The Northumbrians really should have doubled their lead just four minutes later. A lovely pass threaded into the box by Taylor found Luke Carr in acres of space and he squared the ball to Chilton who had the goal at his mercy, but steered the ball agonisingly wide with the outside of his right boot.
Morpeth did not have to wait long for their lead and started the second half even better than Hereford had the first - putting themselves 2-1 up only 43 seconds after the restart. Some clever and patient passing in the box between Taylor and Luke Carr gifted the latter a clear sight on goal and he tucked the ball calmly into the bottom corner of the goal.
The game then calmed down for about fifteen minutes, but exploded back into life when Morpeth found themselves in dreamland on the hour mark. Chilton threaded the eye of a needle with his neat pass, picking out Taylor in the box. He fired low to beat Horsell at the near post and put Morpeth 3-1 up.
Morpeth then defended well and restricted Hereford to half chances, whilst at the other end chances for substitute Steven Anderson and Sean Taylor should have put the game beyond doubt with just quarter of an hour to play, but both were denied by some good goalkeeping by Horsell.
A nervy final 15 minutes then followed for Morpeth, and they nearly conceded late on when substitute Mustapha Bundu headed past Dryden from a 90th minute corner, but Damen Mullen was on the line to head away the danger.
There was still time for things to get better for Morpeth and, as they were spurred on by the few thousand noisy supporters who had made the long journey down from Northumberland, they sealed the deal in stoppage time when substitute Sean Bell got round the back of the Hereford defence and his shot was deflected past Horsell to claim a victory that will surely go down in the history books as one of the greatest upsets seen at Wembley Stadium.
Morpeth: (4-4-2) Karl Dryden; Stephen Forster, Chris Swailes, Michael Hall, James Novak; Jordan Fry, Ben Sayer, Keith Graydon (C), Sean Taylor (Damen Mullen, 79); Luke Carr (Shaun Bell, 89), Michael Chilton (Steven Anderson, 69). Subs: Dale Pearso, Niall Harrison.
Hereford: (4-4-1-1) Martin Horsell; Jimmy Oates, Ryan Green,, Joel Edwards (C); Mike Symons, Jamie Willets (John Mills, 70), Aaron Birch, Joe Tumelty (Mustapha Bundu, 54); Pablo Haysham; Sirdic Grant. Subs: Nathan Summers, Dylan Bonella, Ross Stanley.