Alliance KO Cup Final Preview: Canal Tavern v Sprotbrough

Canal Tavern

Canal Tavern

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Only Canal Tavern can deny Sprotbrough a record-breaking third successive Doncaster Sunday Alliance League KO Cup success.

The two Premier Division sides meet in Sunday’s final at Bentley Colliery where Sprotbrough will also be seeking to complete the double.

The Doncaster side finished well clear of second-placed Graceholme, who were neck-and-neck with them at the start of the year.

Tavern finished their league campaign on a high, beating defending champions Atletico Tap Maker – a result which kept their hopes of finishing third alive.

Although manager Gary Brown admits that Sprotbrough will probably start the game as favourites, he says his Thorne side, who will be contesting their first KO Cup final, don’t fear their rivals.

“We are the only team to beat them this season and only lost 1-0 at their place in the return,” he said.

“We’ve come up through the ranks together and there’s never been much between the two sides.

“On their day they are the best team in the division. Having said that, I feel that we can beat anybody on our day.

“It could go either way on Sunday. We respect them and they respect us.

“As a team we can be physical and if teams want to mix it we won’t lay down and die. But we’ve also got good footballers in the team as well.

“I think it will be competitive being a final, but I also think it will be a good footballing game because they play good stuff as well.”

Tavern led the Premier Division table by five points back in late October and looked well placed to go one better than last season’s runners-up spot in their debut in the top flight.

But they lost their way in mid-season with players failing to show for games.

“We had a bit of a clear-the-air meeting earlier this year during which I told the players that I wasn’t going to continue wasting my time if they weren’t prepared turn up,” said manager Gary Brown.

“We got a good reaction for about three weeks and then numbers started to drop off again.

“Things improved again and we started to play well towards the back end of the season, but it’s still hard to get some of them out of bed on a Sunday morning to be honest.

“But it is not just us; it happens to a lot of other teams in our league and others.”

Both sides have players who play at a higher level on a Saturday with such as Darren Fell and Ross Ebbage turning out for high-flying Central Midlands side Thorne Colliery, with Sprotbrough boasting several Northern Counties East League players.