Newport Pagnell Town claimed their first ever Buildbase FA Vase Final victory over fellow Step Five side Littlehampton Town at Wembley, thanks to a double from Ben Shepherd and a stunning goal from Kieran Barnes in a convincing 3-0 win.
Five years on from losing to eventual Vase winners South Shields in the quarter-finals, the team from a town of 15,000 people achieved the greatest moment in their 59-year history under the Arch.
But it could have been a different start, as it was Littlehampton’s Lucas Pattenden who had the first big chance on goal. Cutting inside from the right in the first four minutes of the match, he saw his effort go over the bar but gave a fright to Martin Conway between the Newport Pagnell sticks.
- The Buildbase FA Vase Final
- Sunday 22 May 2022
- Wembley Stadium connected by EE
The first 20 minutes became an end-to-end affair as Jake Watkinson found himself in the box with a great chance to put the Swans ahead but his attempt on goal was deflected off a Littlehampton defender and was subsequently put out of play under pressure.
Soon after, the green half of Wembley was sent into raptures as a Shepherd corner was headed clear only as far as Barnes on the edge of the box, who hit it sweetly with his left foot for a beauty of a half-volley into the top corner to make it 1-0.
The lead was almost doubled as Danny Webb counterattacked from a Littlehampton corner and sent a teammate through on goal, but the pass back inside to try and give Webb an open net to score into was too close to the goalkeeper and easily collected.
A lengthy stoppage in play occurred before half time as Mo Ahmed and George Gaskin collided heads in midfield, prompting the Littlehampton co-manager to be subbed off for Aaron Capon.
James Binfield pulled off a fantastic close-range save to kick off the first half as Shepherd’s corner found the head of an unmarked Jordan Wright, but the Marigolds’ goalkeeper’s reactions were too quick as he parried the ball over the bar to keep his team in the tie.
Calamitous defending would prove Littlehampton’s downfall in the 55th minute, however, as Newport Pagnell doubled their lead when a ball into the box ricocheted off a defender and Binfield to a lurking Shepherd who had the entire goal to rifle the ball into.
The Marigolds almost pulled one back as Joe Benn powered a shot towards goal from 18 yards out, but it rattled the post to the dismay of the 7,000 fans that had travelled up from West Sussex.
An outstretched leg from Lewis Jenkins would turn things from bad to worse for the Southern Combination Premier Division champions as he brought down Watkinson in the box; referee Samuel Barrott immediately pointed to the spot for a penalty.
Shepherd stepped up to the spot and sent the keeper the wrong way to get his second and the Swans’ third.
Littlehampton didn’t go down without a fight, with Capon’s wonderful dipping shot that just barely went over the bar being the best of numerous chances in the final 20 minutes for Mitchell Hand’s men.
It was a game that could have gone either way, but Newport Pagnell’s clinical performance meant they got their Wembley moment of lifting the FA Vase trophy, denying Littlehampton a league and cup double as they move into Step 4 next season.
Littlehampton Town: 1. James Binfield 2. Shay Wiggans 5.Jordan Clarke © 6. Jordan Layton 7. Lucas Pattenden 8. Tom Biggs 9. Joe Benn 10. George Gaskin 11. Dion Jarvis 12. Liam Humphreys 20. Lewis Jenkins
Substitutes: Aaron Capon for George Gaskin (45’), Zac Harris for Jordan Layton (57’), Dave Herbert for Jordan Layton (57’)
Unused Substitutes: 3. Alex Duncan, 17. Lee Garnham, 19. Ryan Peake, 21. Scott Packer
Joint Managers: Mitchell Hand & George Gaskin
Newport Pagnell Town: 1. Martin Conway 3. James Sage 4. Christian Smail 5. Jordan Wright © 6. Alfie Powell 7. Kieran Barnes 8. Ben Shepherd 10. Jake Watkinson 19. Mo Ahmed 14. Danny Webb 21. Lewis Markey
Substitutes: Ben Ford for Kieran Barnes (68’), Jim Burnside for Jake Watkinson (68’), Adam Pryke for Jordan Wright (73’)
Unused Substitutes: 12. Robbie Goodman, 15. Jake Newman, 17. Jake Strong, 18. Michael Lyon
Manager: Gary Flinn
Goals: Barnes (19’), Shepherd (55’, 63’)