WMartyn StevensonDock AFC rounded off their season with a brilliant display to win this year’s trophy in front of a healthy crowd at Cammell Lairds Kirklands ground. The opposition was old foe, Queens Park and the spectators were treated to a seven goal thriller which went into extra time under the floodlights.

Both sides started the game somewhat cautiously, keeping possession when possible to get a feel of the slick surface. After eight minutes, Queen’s Murray forced a smart save from Dock ‘keeper Stevenson after a fine Cotgrave through ball. Dock almost took the lead on twelve minutes after a Queens defensive clearance hit Matty Carling, but the ball looped just over Queen’s goalie, David Peace’s bar. Dock went close again on fifteen minutes when a Steve Owen cross was almost turned in for an own goal.

Tom Charters for Dock then made a fine tackle as Queens responded with a quick break. The deadlock was eventually broken on twenty seven minutes, when Mike McGraa was on hand from six yards to convert a simple chance, presented to him by some confusion in the Queens defence, caused by a deep cross from Mark Head.

On thirty eight minutes, Colin O’Hanlon went close to doubling the Dock lead, from a header after a free kick was awarded when Mike McGraa was fouled some twenty five yards out.

By now, Queens had upped the pace and Cotgrave and Bowe were starting to dictate possession in the crucial midfield arrears. As Dock looked to see out the first half with a ‘shut out’, Bowe equalized with a strong header on forty one minutes. Initially, Martyn Stevenson produced a magnificent point blank save, but as the ball was whipped back into the Dock box, Bowe was on hand to convert.

HT: Dock 1-1 Queens Park.

Queens continued to dominate possession after the break, which resulted in a rearguard defensive display from Dock. Martyn Stevenson was outstanding in the Dock goal and all four outfield defenders ably assisted him with some fine last ditch tackling. Queens did create some good chances in this period, notably from Cotgrave, Rob Courtney and Bowe, but Stevenson was having a ‘worldie’ for the Dock!

Dock responded with some sporadic breaks, but on eighty minutes, Mike Burke headed in Queens second goal from a corner and the cup seemed destined to elude Dock’s grasp. However, with five minutes of normal time remaining, Mark Head capped a fine display with a low crisp shot into the bottom corner of the net to bring the sides level. Mike McGraa almost snatched a late winner from a header, but the game looked odds on to go to extra time.

Jason Williams, Dock’s manager, then brought on Ian McGraa and Chris Barrow for the tiring Luke Hughes and Steve Owen before the ninety minutes were up. These substitutions were to prove decisive in the extra time period.

FT: Dock 2-2 Queens Park.

Extra time started similarly to the opening minutes of the game, where both sides, now with substitutions made were cautiously keeping possession without really threatening either goal.

It took until the 104th minute for a clear chance, when Danny Brookes made a crucial tackle on Mike McGraa when clean through. Chris Barrow then sent in a deep cross which just eluded Mike McGraa again as the first period of extra time petered out.

Dock brought on Steve Duckers for the Dock captain Paul Byrne, who had an inspirational game at right back.

With both sides looking to win the final in normal playing time, Bowe headed over when well positioned from a Queens corner on 110 minutes.Thomas Murray then put a peach of a cross into the Dock area, but no Queens’s attacker could benefit with tired legs and minds now taking over.

With just five minutes of extra time left, Dock found resurgence in energy levels and produced a lethal three goal salvo to win the tie!

Chris Barrow finished with a powerful shot past Peace after a fine through ball from Mike McGraa. If anyone from the British Olympic committee was present, they would have signed him up for the 100 metres in Rio, such was his celebration!

A minute later, Mike McGraa put the icing on the cake when he slotted home from an excellent pass from Ian McGraa, to make it 4-2.

Terry Cotgrave then had a chance to give Queens some hope, but his shot went wide, and with it any hopes of a Queens’s fightback.

Ian McGraa then added the cherry to the icing on the cake when in customary manner, he converted a twenty yard direct free kick with the last kick of the game.

It was a fine display from Dock, who withstood some heavy pressure in crucial periods of the game. All the squad, including those unfortunate enough not to take part in the final, can take pride from some outstanding performances this season, in both league and cup encounters. This win was a fitting reward for a long hard season’s endeavours.

FT (A.E.T.): Dock 5-2 Queens Park.

Dock. 4-4-2 (with substitues in brackets).
Stevenson, Byrne (Duckers), Crotty, O’ Hanlon, Owen (I McGraa), Carlin, Charters, Hughes (Barrow), Clampitt, Head, M McGraa

Dock with cup

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Report: PETER WARBURTON
Photos: CHRIS STADING