By Jamie Durent
Thu 03rd May 2012 : 8:26
A spirited Northallerton Town held off a jaded Team Northumbria as they won the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup 3-2.
Despite TN taking the lead inside two minutes, Northallerton struck back three times unanswered as Tom Davies' consolation came too little, too late.
"It's a disappointing defeat but the 120 minutes on Monday massively factored into it," said TN boss Paul Johnson.
"To be honest we tried to paper over it but I saw the tiredness coming.
"There wasn't that edginess you'd expect before a cup final and it felt a bit flat which I accept the blame for."
All looked bright for TN at the start as a Mark Bertram corner was cleared to Graeme Cairns and his deflected shot was tapped in by Jack Palmer.
But within 10 minutes the scores were level as TN failed to clear a Northallerton corner and striker Colin Anderson slammed home.
And they were soon to be ahead for good as Gary Cook latched on to a loose ball in the area and finished well beyond Andy Jennison.
TN pressed for an equaliser before half time and Gavin Donoghue's attempted cross hit the crossbar and Peter Watling could only turn the ball over.
"When they stuck men behind the ball we found it difficult to break them down," Johnson said.
"I won't point the blame at any individual for the goals as it's either something I've told the players to do or mental fatigue.
"It was a strange game for us to be honest and I'm not sure how other sides would have coped in the same situation."
Davies did well to block a goal-bound effort just after the break before Lee Scott saw an effort well saved by Stephen Craggs down the opposite end.
Scott turned provider on the hour to lay off Cairns but he flashed his effort just wide as TN strived for the leveller.
Striker Scott, recalled after the Northumberland Senior Cup final on Monday, fired over twice inside 10 minutes and a Davies' cross flicked the crossbar with TN in the ascendency.
But after a Northallerton break lead to a corner Grant Hickman rose highest at the back post to firmly plant home a header for his second and ultimately the game-winner.
TN were throwing everything at Northallerton and Martin Butterworth was lucky to escape with a yellow card following an ugly challenge on Bertram.
Davies leaped well and his glancing header clocked up his third goal in as many days but TN couldn't find an equaliser as Northallerton held on for a deserved win.
"We played a high intensity game on Monday and it has taken a massive toll on the squad," said Johnson.
"I feel I could have done more to get the lads up for the game and I can take responsibility for this loss.
"It's a bit depressing right now but we'll sleep on it and our focus then switches to Saturday."
Saturday lunchtime sees TN entertain Spennymoor Town at Coach Lane in the semi-final of the League Cup with FA Vase finalists West Auckland Town awaiting the victors in the final.
Having dumped out four First Division sides in cup competitions this season, Johnson sees no reason why TN cannot add to that list.
"All the other teams in the league are done but we still have one massive game to play," he said.
"There's the potential for the upset and I believe we can do to Spennymoor what we did to Newcastle on Monday night.
"We've nearly got a win in that game so I want to make up for it in this next one.
"It'll be a huge game all round and we'll have everyone resting in these next two days for it."
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