FOUR goals from Ben Darville at Bedale High School last Sunday helped Northallerton Police to their second cup final of the season with what turned out to be a comfortable victory over Henleys Athletic.
For a meeting between the top two sides in the Division One table, this was expected to be a much tighter affair.
But the Police, and Darville in particular, produced a performance of the very highest quality to remain on course for the treble.
League leaders the Police kicked with the wind and the slope in the first half and they took full advantage. Just ten minutes had elapsed when a cross from Dan Wright led to confusion in the Henleys defence and Darville poked home his first from close range. And it was 2-0, five minutes later. Again Wright was at the heart of it when his shot from the edge of the area was adjudged by referee David Holmes to have been handled by defender Andrew Shepherd and Sam Vernalls coolly beat goalkeeper Ian Moore from the spot.
The semi-final was as good as over when the Police scored twice in six minutes before the break. It was 3-0 in the 32nd minute when a long ball out of defence from Simon Pinkney sent Darville clear of the Henleys offside trap and he chipped the ball over the stranded Moore from 15 yards. Darville then completed a first half hat-trick when brother Liam combined with Gav Armstrong before before crossing for Darville to slot home from close range.
Henleys gave themselves a glimmer of hope in first half stoppage time when Police goalkeeper Steve Walker misjudged a cross from the right and Ben Palmer was able to force the ball home.
But any hope of a dramatic second half comeback was over within seven minutes of the restart. Darville this time turned provider with a lovely ball in from the right which Vernalls gleefully smashed past Moore to make it 5-1.
Darville was not quite finished as he grabbed his fourth of the game 12 minutes from time, firing home after good work from Gary Shardha.
Henleys did score a second soon after – Palmer’s shot looping over Walker via a wicked deflection –- but the Police had the final word in stoppage time. Vernalls squared the ball for Adam Pearson on the right and the defender’s dipping volley flew into the top left-hand corner of Moore’s net to make the final score 7-2.
Police face the winners of the semi-final between Kildale and Catterick Village on April 24.