Northern Alliance Cup Finals Preview
Seven cup finals adds to what will be a hectic finale to the 2018-19 season in the Northern Alliance with several clubs aiming to complete a decent haul of silverware.
Premier Division leaders Newcastle University, led by the devastating strike-force of Niza Chilufya, Keith Douglas, Lefteris Alambritisetal firing them to unprecedented haul of League, League Cup and Benevolent Bowl treble.
Having led the way in the league for most of the campaign the Students reached the Reeves Independent George Dobbins League Cup final with victories over Jesmond (8-3, away), Newcastle Blue star (3-1, home), Rothbury (2-0, home), and Blyth Town (2-1, away AET), defeating tough opposition in doing so.
Manager Neil Baistow said: “Having been finalists in the Benevolent Bowl and won a League and Cup double last season, we want to go out and win every game.
“There’s been a lot of games this season, especially early on, that have tested us so we had to hit the ground running but losing to (Newcastle) Chemfica (in the Challenge Cup), that was disappointing for me, as was the loss to Blue Star in the League which was a reality check more than anything.
“As for these cup finals, facing Cullercoats, we’ll certainly respect them but I know a few of their players so will have a plan.
“As for the Benevolent Bowl, that’s not been easy getting to the final again but that’s the beauty of the cups and we’re the one team that everyone wants to beat.”
Their opposition for the League Cup is First Division high-fliers, Cullercoats, who, having begun their campaign in the first round (Uni began in the second) they oversaw challenges from Stobswood (5-1, home), Felling Magpies (3-1, home), Gateshead Reserves (3-2, away), Alnwick Town (2-0, away), and Forest Hall (2-0, away), their quarter-final success at Alnwick the standout result.
The League Cup is one of three cup finals which ‘Coats will contest this campaign, also reaching the final of the Combination Cup, where they’ll face Prudhoe Youth Club Seniors, and the Northumberland Minor Cup, Blyth Town being the opposition.
Speaking of his sides’ cup success this campaign manager Daniel Iredale added: “It’s what it’s all about, playing against the best.
“We know we can hold our own and will have a go. We’re not scared of them and any team has a chance on any given day.
“I’ll putting out the best side possible in all three finals and we’ll all go out there with very positive attitudes.
“The League Cup run alone has not been easy but we believe we can do something, we’ve had some difficult games en-route to the final with Gateshead (Reserves) being tough but brilliant match whilst the game with Alnwick (Town) was a tough dogfight , so two, very different games.”
Another side into three cup finals, and who’ve chased down the Uni all season in the Premier Division is AFC Killingworth and the free-scoring Malcolm Morien.
Into the final of the Northumberland Benevolent Bowl, Challenge Cup and Bill Gardner Cup, where they’ll oppose rivals Uni, Newcastle Chemfica and Gosforth Bohemians, striker Malky Morien has fired over thirty goals in the league alone and will be looking for a treble as well, more with promotion and the league title having been a slender option for most of the season.
Looking ahead to their own Easter banquet the Killy hitman said: “The goal for me now is to win all four (league and three cups) and take the golden boot.
“You have to aim high don’t you, so why not and I want to better last season’s goal tally and have plenty of games left to do it in.
“I usually let my feet do the talking but I’ll say that we’ll be disappointed if we don’t do this and I would say that it’ll come down to the games between us and the Uni (the par still have to play each other in the league, all games set for April).
“Consistently it’s been one of the best seasons we’ve had as well and the three cup finals are interesting ones but the Benevolent Bowl (against the Uni) is the hardest and you’ll see the best of Killingworth in those games.”
APRIL 4 2019 (19:00), TEAM VALLEY CARPETS AMATEUR CUP FINAL (Woodhorn Lane, Ashington) Blyth FC – Stobswood Welfare; APRIL 11 2019 (19:00), TEAM VALLEY CARPETS CHALLENGE CUP FINAL (Darren Pressen Stadium, North Shields), AFC Killingworth – Newcastle Chemfica; APRIL 18 2019 (19:00), REEVES INDEPENDENT GEORGE DOBBINS LEAGUE CUP FINAL (Grounsell Park, Heaton Stannington), Cullercoats – Newcastle University; APRIL 22 2019 (12:00), BLUEFIN SPORTS INSURANCE BILL GARDNER CUP FINAL (Purvis Park, Percy Main), AFC Killingworth – Gosforth Bohemians, APRIL 25 2019 (19:00), TEAM VALLEY CARPETS COMBINATION CUP FINAL (Birtley Sports Complex, Birtley), Cullercoats – Prudhoe Youth Club Seniors; APRIL 26 2019 (19:30), SCOTTS' LES TODD BENEVOLENT BOWL (Blue Flames Sports Ground, Whitley Park), AFC Killingworth – Newcastle University; (TBA) STELRAD MINOR CUP FINAL, Blyth Town – Cullercoats