Tiverton Town – FA Vase Final – Wembley Stadium 1999
Bedlington Terriers made the trip to Wembley to face Devon side Tiverton Town in the clubs biggest game of its history. A season that had also included the 4-1 FA Cup 1st Round demolition of Division 2 side Colchester United and the trip to Scunthorpe in the FA Cup 2nd Round, was to be ended at the home of football. What a way to celebrate 50 years of Bedlington Terriers Football Club!
Bedlington Terriers v Tiverton Town (at Wembley) 16/5/99 – Lost 1-0
FA Carlsberg Vase Final
GALLANT Bedlington Terriers’ Wembley dream ended in heartbreak when Tiverton clinched a dramatic last-gasp single goal FAVase victory yesterday.
The Terriers had more than held their own with the Vase holders and with tired legs producing cramp on both sides extra-time looked a formality. But just as fellow Arnott Insurance Northern League club Tow Law Town had fallen to a single late goal by a Tiverton substitute last season, fate struck North East non-league football another fatal blow.
Tiverton boss Martyn Rogers made an inspired double substitution 20 minutes from time and just as Peter Varley had become a Tiverton hero 12 months earlier with his 78th minute winner against the Lawyers Scott Rogers this time wrote his name into Devon folklore. The former Bristol City apprentice stabbed a miscued shot that hobbled past Terriers’ keeper Paul O’Connor and took what seemed an eternity before finding the far corner of the net.
Less than two minutes remained on the clock and it was the first time Tiverton had threatened the Bedlington goal in the second-half. It was a hammer blow from which Keith Perry’s side had no time to recover and after the game the shell-shocked Bedlington boss failed to turn up at a post-match press conference but his assistant Tony Lowery admitted after the game that his players had been devastated by Tiverton’s late winner:
“The players were in tears after the game as we were confident we would have gone on to win in extra- time,” he said. “They looked very tired and to be beaten by that type of goal was a killer”.
“The first-half was fairly even but we were the better side in the second period and they never caused us any problems. “We’re very down at the moment but the experience will make us stronger and more determined to come back and win the Vase next year.”
The experienced former Sheffield United, West Brom and Fulham full-back Martin Pike backed Lowery’s comments. “We didn’t pass the ball as well as we could have but we didn’t deserve to lose the game,” he said. “Wembley hasn’t been a lucky venue for North East clubs in recent years but it’s a fitting place to end my career. “Bedlington are a great club and have made massive strides to become the top non-league club in the region.
“The fans were marvellous and it’s been a great occasion – it’s just a pity we couldn’t bring the Cup back to Northumberland.”
Meanwhile, Tiverton manager Martyn Rogers paid tribute to Bedlington’s brave challenge: “Bedlington are a cracking side and the best opponents we’ve faced in three Wembley finals.”
“Bedlington’s pedigree in non-league football is second to none. But the Terriers were left to rue a number of missed chances in an entertaining first half.
Understandably Bedlington had been jittery early on but they fashioned the clearest opening of a nail-biting 90 minutes after 17 minutes. The impressive Micky Cross worked a one-two with striker Dean Gibb that left the Bedlington-born schemer with just Town goalkeeper Paul Edwards to beat. However, Cross saw his angled shot blocked and minutes later Steve Boon cut in from the left only for Edwards to acrobatically save his 22-yard curler. A long ball from Cross then sent Gibb free but the 31-goal striker’s early shot was nearer the corner flag than the goal.
As Bedlington grew in confidence strike partner John Milners downward header from the dangerous Richie Bond’s cross from the right was held by Edwards. At the other end a poor punched clearance by O’Connor gave Kevin Nancekevill a chance only for the Tiverton midfielder to volley over.
Play was swinging from end to end and O’Connor made crucial saves low down from Phil Everett and Varley just before the interval. Both sides tightened up after the break but it was Bedlington who looked the better bet to break the deadlock in front of a near 14,000 crowd. Milner and Gibb were well shackled throughout but Bond’s low cross saw Milner get in front of his marker at the near post only for Edwards to again frustrate the Northumbrians.
Everett headed over in a rare Tiverton break and the same player shot straight at O’Connor from 20 yards out. However, as Bedlington managerial pair Keith Perry and Tony Lowery decided against the introduction of fresh legs in normal time. Tiverton produced the decisive match-winning strike in the dying seconds. Bedlington’s distraught players slumped to the Wembley turf at the final whistle with Cross refusing to move from the centre spot and Bond and Bowes inconsolable
It was the cruellest and most undeserved of blows to the Terriers in what has been a memorable end to their 50th anniversary season.
BEDLINGTON TERRIERS: O’Connor, Bowes, Pike, Boon (Ludlow 90), Melrose, Teasdale, Cross, Middleton (Renforth 90), Gibb. Milner. Bond.
Subs (not used) Pearson, Cameron, Gowens.
TIVERTON TOWN: Edwards, Fallon, Saunders, Tatterton, Tallon, Conning (Pears 69), Nancekevill (Rogers 69), Varley, Everett, Daly, Leonard.
Subs (not used): Tucker, Hynds, Grimshaw.
(report from the Evening Chronicle – Jeff Bowron)
Scunthorpe, 5/12/98, Glanford Park. FA Cup 2nd Round
TWO penalty appeals early in the second-half set Bedlington and Scunthorpe apart and ended the Terriers road to glory.
Bedlington’s appeal was turned down after 53 minutes; Scunthorpe’s was upheld a minute later when Craig Melrose pulled back skipper Chris Hope.
John Eyre stepped up to send Paul O’Connor the wrong way before scoring with the cheekiest of chips at the opposite post.
The goal and the rejected penalty appeal knocked the stuffing out of the Terriers. Leading scorer John Milner, 28 this season, made a hash of a cross from Michael Cross two minutes later and confidence drained.
But Bedlington did gather themselves and put Scunthorpe under pressure. However, as they pushed forward in the 81st minute it was Scunthorpe who scored on the break, from a Jamie Forrester cracker, his 13th goal of the season.