Skipper reflects on Play-Off Final defeat

Captain Adam Nicholson described the fans as ‘unbelievable’ after Saturday’s Play-Off heartbreak to Long Eaton United. 

Almost 2,000 fans packed into the MAP Group UK Stadium to watch the Anchors and Long Eaton United go all the way to extra-time and penalties with the latter winning out in the end.

Nicholson said: “The fans were unbelievable. I would love to see more crowds like that next season.

“I hope people who came for the first time enjoyed it and continue to support us next season.”

Those in attendance were not short on entertainment. Long Eaton held a half time lead through Alex Marshall’s goal before strikes from Dale Mulligan and Matty Tymon turned the game in Stockton’s favour.

However, there was one further sting when Luke Cox, with an aid of a deflection, drew the visitors level.

Stockton dominated extra time but could not find the winner. That brought it down to penalties and it was Long Eaton who came out winners.

Reflecting on the game, Nicholson said: “I thought it was a great game for the neutral. They were very effective with their game in the first half and we didn’t really play our own game which was disappointing.

“In the second half I thought we dominated but we just could not get that winning goal.

“Unfortunately it is a lottery when it goes to penalties as we saw on Tuesday night. Fair play to the lads in having the courage to step up and take a penalty in one of the biggest games of their career.”

Although the season did end in disappointing circumstances with another Play-Off Final defeat, the club did again make progress by securing their highest ever league position. By finishing the season in second, the Anchors bettered last season by two places.

That meant that Stockton have finished have bettered their league position every season since 2012 bar one season in 2018-19.

Nicholson said: “We have come a long way in a short space of time. Seven years ago we were still playing in the Wearside League. Now we are gutted that we aren’t playing at Step Three after finishing second in a really tough league.

“We have now got some time to reflect and learn from the ups and down of this season and freshen things up in the summer so we can get the promotion we deserve next season.”

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