STOCKTON TOWN VS LONG EATON UNITED
COMPETITION: Northern Premier League East Division – Playoff Final
DATE: Saturday 29th April 2023
ENTRY: £9 Adult, £7 Concession, £3 Child (read previous posts for ticketing information)
GROUND: MAP Group UK Stadium, Bishopton Road West, Stockton-On-Tees, TS19 0QD
LIVE UPDATES: @stockton_townfc – Twitter
Stockton Town face off with Long Eaton United in the Northern Premier League East Play-Off final.
Saturday afternoon’s don’t get much bigger than this, after an enthralling semi-final against Stocksbridge Park Steels on Tuesday evening, Stockton Town are taking on Long Eaton United in the Northern Premier League East playoff final, with promotion to the Premier Division the reward for the victor.
Tuesday’s game was very much a game of two halves, the Anchors took an early two goal lead thanks to goals from Tom Coulthard and Cameron Painter, but Stocksbridge came out of the half time break fired up and pulled it back to 2-2 in little to no time.
After a flurry of chances for both sides throughout the 90 minutes, as well as an extra 30 minutes of extra time, the tie was decided via a penalty shootout which led to goalkeeper Callum Roberts saving two, and Mikey Roberts scoring the winner to send the Anchors to their second playoff final in two seasons, with a better outcome the hope for the Anchors this time around.
Stockton and Long Eaton only met for the first time earlier in this season, following Long Eaton’s promotion last season.
Here are the results from the previous matchups:
Dec 3 2022: Stockton Town 1-2 Long Eaton United – Northern Premier League East
Jan 28 2023: Long Eaton United 1-1 Stockton Town – Northern Premier League East
Stockton Town: W W D L D*
Last Game: Stockton Town 2-2 Stocksbridge Park Steels (Stockton won 4-3 on penalties)
Long Eaton United: L L W W D*
Last Game: Hebburn Town 2-2 Long Eaton United (Long Eaton won 3-2 on penalties)
Long Eaton United are having an eerily similar season to that of the Anchors last season. Following a promotion from the United Counties League Premier Division North last season, Long Eaton started the season slowly, but after a storming winter period they found themselves in a playoff push.
A few slip up’s toward the end of the season meant they finished fourth and were met with the near four hour trip to Hebburn Town on Tuesday night in the semi-finals. Long Eaton took an early 2-0 lead but Hebburn fought back and despite a very late equaliser from the hosts, Long Eaton kept their composure to win it in the same way Stockton did, through a penalty shootout.
‘The Blues’ are led by the league’s second top goalscorer, Jamie Walker. The experienced winger contributed to an unbelievable 37 goals this season, scoring 24 and assisting 13, with two of those goals coming against Hebburn on Tuesday night, on top of scoring the winning penalty. He’s certainly a guy that the Anchors back line need to keep a close eye on before he gets the one opportunity he needs to make a difference.
VIEW FROM THE OPPOSITION
Long Eaton United goalkeeper Ross Durant spoke after his penalty heroics on Tuesday night and said:
“It’s a playoff final, anything can happen. We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing and you never know.”
Blues manager Ian Deakin followed on by saying:
“We’ve been here before, we’ve played in big games, we’ve got players who’ve played in big games, I’ve played in them myself so I know what to expect.
“Don’t play the occasion, play the game. Play the best you can and you usually get what you deserve out of it.
“It’s a cup final, anything can happen. We’ll go there with the same attitude as we always do to try and win it.”
Anchors forward Mikey Roberts spoke after the Stocksbridge game on Tuesday night and said:
“We go again, hopefully we can go one better than last year and win it, let’s hope.
“We’re ready… We look to Long Eaton, we’ve just got to go and do our business and like I said let’s go one better and win it.”
Words by Jordan Clarke