An off-the-cuff remark rang true when relieved HUCKNALL ROLLS LEISURE made it third time lucky by lifting the Notts Senior League’s (NSL) Senior Cup on Tuesday night.
After defeats in the finals of 2011 and 2012, Rolls gained revenge on their conquerors three years ago, Boots Athletic, amid extra-time drama at Arnold Town’s Eagle Valley Stadium.
Twice coming from behind, Jez Corthorn and Jonathan ‘Toddy’ Wass’s team triumphed 3-2, courtesy of a 103rd minute winner from substitute Harry Allen.
The success was a welcome tonic for Corthorn, who has not been in the best of health after he was grounded by a blood-clot scare.
But uncannily, it also fulfilled a prophetic promise made by striker Allen as long ago as before Christmas.
As he set out on the long road to recovery from a knee-injury, Allen was asked by Wass whether he’d play this season. His reply?....”Get us to the cup final and I’ll score you the winner!”
The match could also be described as Rolls’s own version of The Matthews Final because it was the night when the talented Matthews brothers came of age.
The pacy effervescence of left-winger Kane Matthews earned him the official man-of-the-match award.
But not far behind was younger bro, Jack Matthews, who opened many eyes with a calm, commanding display of polish and vision in the middle of the park.
Not only did both get on the scoresheet, both also went close to adding the kind of sensational goals normally reserved for much loftier occasions than this.
Kane closed the first half by embarking on a surging, weaving 50-metre solo sortie that flashed him past several opponents to the edge of the box, from where a left-foot drive whistled past the post.
And deep into injury-time, Jack unleashed a spectacular effort, Jonjo Shelvey-like, from the halfway-line that had Boots ‘keeper Curtis MacDonald beaten all ends up, only to clear the bar by a fraction.
By then, Rolls were well on top, fully confirming their status as warm favourites after finishing eight places and 30 points above Boots in the NSL’s Senior Division table.
However, there wasn’t that much between the sides in an opening hour of disjointed action, not helped by an uneven surface.
Chances fell at either end for the game’s two consistently prolific marksmen, Andy Start and Kev Walker. But the contest did not really spring into life until Boots broke the deadlock in the 60th minute.
Midfielder Wayne Jones dinked a lovely cross towards the far post where Ash Harrison flew in to plant a header in the top corner.
Rolls responded instantly with the dangerous Robbie England bringing a brilliant fingertip save from MacDonald. But it was seconds after England had been replaced by Allen that they equalised -- Jack Matthews latching on to a booming punt by defender Billy Brooks and needing only one deft touch before sliding a shot past the advancing ‘keeper.
With their tails up, Rolls were at last in full flow. Yet they had to fight back again when gifting Boots a second lead 12 minutes from the end.
Jake Pearson failed to collect as he rushed out of goal and as the ball squirmed from his grasp, Tian Walton picked up the pieces, rounded the ‘keeper and set up Walker to slot home.
Corthorn and Wass reacted by sending on a third striker -- and were rewarded with another leveller just six minutes from the end.
Start, who led the line well all night, battled to beat a defender on the right byline and crossed to the near post where Kane Matthews arrived to sidefoot home.
Deflated Boots struggled to conquer tired legs in extra-time. Rolls were palpably fitter and bagged their winner just before the end of the first half.
Once again, it was a brotherly affair -- but this time courtesy of Hucknall family Allen, rather than the Matthews clan. Jack Allen did the spadework, dragging the ball ck from the right, and Harry Allen did the rest, drilling a quality finish into the roof of the net.