SAM AGAR scored the decisive penalty in the shoot-out in the cup final against Clifton All Whites.
THE supporters of Newark Flowserve are the envy of the East Midlands Counties League for their sheer numbers and volume of backing.
Pre-game stats ahead of the League Cup final showed the average gate at Lowfields this season has been 212 while their opponents Clifton All Whites averaged 38.
When the final at Clipstone FC’s Lido Ground went to penalties, the exhuberant Flowserve fans gathered behind the goal and fully played their part in the shoot-out as The Highwaymen completed a silverware double for the second successive season.
Last term it was the Notts Senior League Senior Division league and cup double, and a crowd of 201 at Clipstone – with at least two-thirds of that number travelling from Newark – saw the men in orange add the East Midlands Counties League knockout cup to their league runners-up trophy with an emphatic 4-1 penalty shoot-out victory.
Next season it will be new territory once again as the club takes Newark football up to step five for the first time, but all at Lowfields will have to wait until a fortnight on Monday while their new league destination is determined by the Football Association hierarchy.
Clifton All Whites lost 1-0 at home in last season’s quarter-finals to eventual winners Radford FC, who Flowserve beat in this season’s competition in the semi-final held at Rainworth Miners’ Welfare’s Kirklington Road ground.
Those looking for lucky omens ahead of the final will have noted that there was a fairground next to the pitch at Clipstone, while there had been a circus adjacent to the game at Rainworth. Dual signing Bradley Wells was also in the orange ranks, as he had been in that Kirklington Road semi-final.
And there was a repeat of the strong wind as the final was played in weather for all occasions, with the day interspersed with sunshine and squally showers which included hail stones to add a traditional touch to the Bank Holiday weekend occasion.
Skipper Tom Potts drilled in a free-kick from distance after 15 minutes which just cleared the crossbar in the first incident worthy of note in a game between two evenly-matched sides – in terms of errors being made on an occasion where nerves dominated the early exchanges.
Then Sam Agar tried his luck from a similar distance with an identical result before Clifton resorted to the physical side of the game to counter Flowserve’s attacks down the right-hand side and halt the marauding Sol Miller and Wells.
The resulting free-kicks from Wells first came to naught and them skimmed the head of Agar, before Danny Meadows squared the ball across the face of goal where a stretching Jammy Lloyd could only guide his effort behind for a goal-kick.
A rare foray from All Whites saw Ashley Way pull the trigger with his left foot to bring a fine save out of former Notts County keeper Joe Searson as he dived to his right, but the action was soon down the other end again as Wells had a shot blocked and then set up Agar for a smart volley which again cleared the bar as the half ended goalless.
Flowserve thought they had got the breakthrough five minutes into the second period when a half volley from Rhys Lewis hit the bar and Wells followed up to net, but the latter was adjudged to have been in an offside position.
On 57 minutes a cracking left foot drive by Meadows brought a superb save out of Clifton keeper Scott Miles as he dived to his right, and Meadows’ effort on the rebound was blocked by an increasingly desperate All Whites rearguard. And so to extra-time.
The closest either side came to breaking the deadlock in the first half of the added period was on the stroke of the interval when Lloyd headed over a Meadows corner from the right.
Then Meadows raised hopes when he curled a direct free-kick just wide of the upright with the Clifton keeper static, but by that time the conversation among the crowd had centred on the relative merits of the two goalkeepers in the looming lottery of the shoot-out. In the end neither was needed.
Will Rawson, Lloyd, Meadows and Agar hit punishing spot kicks, while Martin Ball and Aaron Large hoofed their efforts high over the bar either side of a lone successful effort from Tom Madison, and it was all over bar the celebrating.
And that, quite deservedly, went on long into the night.
Newark Flowserve: 1 Joe Searson; 2 Sol Miller; 3 Will Rawdon; 4 Tom Potts (captain); 5 Rhys Lewis; 6 Jammy Lloyd; 7 Bradley Wells; 8 Danny Meadows; 9 Tyrell Shannon-Lewis (Nathan Kelly 88mins); 10 Elliot King (Jack Beckett 54mins); 11 Sam Agar.