PETE VARLEY deserves some respect from his pupils when he takes his history class at Priory High School in Exeter this morning. It cannot be a common occurrence, after all, for their teacher to score a winning goal at Wembley on his weekend off.
The 24-year-old Varley is in the last few weeks of a postgraduate teacher training course at Exeter University. This summer he has to venture in to the real world and try to find a job. At least he now has something special to put on his CV, after his achievement on Saturday.
Varley's goal settled an FA Carlsberg Vase final in which the much-fancied favourites, Tiverton Town from Devon, had been frustrated by a disciplined rearguard action by Tow Law Town, from County Durham. So effective was the Lawyers' defence that Tivvy's feared strikeforce Kevin Smith and Phil Everett, whose combined tally is 78 goals this term, were allowed only one shot between them.
The onus, then, fell on others to make the running and provide the attacking impetus. Especially in the first hour of the match, Kevin Nancekivell was Tiverton's most potent threat. A farmer from the north Devon village of Bradworthy, he regularly ploughed his way through the Tow Law defence to trouble their highly capable goalkeeper, Stuart Dawson.
Steve Daly, a clever playmaker, also stood out for Tiverton, while Tow Law's only real threat came from the dangerous front runner, Jarrod Suddick. He was denied by two fine saves from Paul Edwards, though.
Thanks to the excellence of both goalkeepers extra time looked likely, but then Varley made his mark just six minutes after climbing off the bench. A long ball from the left-back, Dave Leonard, bounced off two defenders and fell to the substitute on the edge of the area. A crisp right-foot shot followed, and Dawson was beaten at last.
Tow Law's day was further spoiled by a red card shown in the 89th minute to Tony Nelson for punching Graham Waters, in retaliation for a bad tackle. For Tiverton, losers in the Vase final five years ago, there was relief after they had survived an anxious six minutes of injury time.
"We didn't play as well as we can," their manager, Martyn Rogers, said, "but we won. We needed a fresh pair of legs out there when I put Pete on - and it paid off."
Goal: Varley (80) 1-0.
Tiverton Town (3-4-1-2): Edwards; J Smith, Tatterton, Saunders; Fallon, Conning, Daly, Leonard (Waters, 86); Nancekivell (S Rogers, 84); Everett, K Smith (Varley, 74).
Tow Law Town (4-4-2): Dawson; Bailey, Moan, Hague, Darwent; Pickering, Nelson, Johnson, Robinson; Suddick, Laidler (Bennett, 84). Substitutes not used: Mason, Hall.
Bookings: Tiverton: Waters. Tow Law: Darwent, Laidler, Bennett. Sending- off: Tow Law: Nelson.
Referee: M Riley (Leeds).
Man of the match: Nancekivell.