Denton Town Champions

Chadderton Reserves 2-3 Denton Town

Joe Edgar
Joshua Rushby was Denton Town’s hero as they beat Chadderton Reserves 3-2 in a final filled with drama and excitement.

The forward scored a hat-trick (including two goals in added time) to help his side become the 2024 Saturday Challenge Trophy champions. 

Hyde United’s Project Solar Stadium hosted Friday’s spectacle, with an impressive number of fans from both sides coming to support their teams. 

Unable to shake the nerves of playing in a final, the players struggled to showcase their quality in the opening phases. Scrappy and hesitant, the first 10 minutes were spent coming to terms with the environment they found themselves in, as opposed to threatening their opponent’s goal. 

It was Denton Town who settled down the quickest, and the threat of Mitch Robinson’s diagonal passes began to trouble Chadderton’s defence. After a few close offside calls, Robinson struck a perfectly timed pass towards Mitch Andrew. The striker took down the ball well before calmly laying it off to his strike partner, Joshua Rushby. Rushby had his first shot blocked by an oncoming defender, but with his second attempt, he slotted the ball past Phil Pole into the bottom corner. 

Their lead didn’t last long, however, as Chadderton responded well to the early setback. A clever move resulted in the ball finding Will Blaire with time on the right-hand side. The full-back delivered an enchanting cross into the middle of Denton’s box, where Venancio Monteiro was gratefully waiting. The forward made no mistakes from six yards out, calmly heading the ball into the bottom corner, ensuring the game was level at the break.

In contrast to the first half, Chadderton Reserves flew out of the blocks to begin the second half.  A decisive move from Chadderton allowed Chad Wilkinson space on the right side of Denton’s penalty area. He utilised this effectively, finding Blessed Iduwe in the middle with a precise cross, and the midfielder was able to give Chadderton the lead for the first time in the match.  

After a few moments of madness caused a wide-scale scuffle between the two sides, the game looked to lose some intensity, with Chadderton managing the game effectively. However, as the fourth official held aloft their board signalling for nine minutes of added time, Denton Town rallied spectacularly. 

Their attacks were frantic and irregular, but moments into stoppage time, Denton were rewarded for their unrelenting desperation. Rushby received the ball inside the 18-yard box and beat his defender, inviting a clumsy tackle to be placed. The forward went down, and a penalty was awarded. Given the pressure of the scenario and the Chadderton crowd doing everything in their power to distract him from his kick, it would have been very easy for Rushby to crumble. Showing bundles of composure, however, the forward grabbed his second goal of the game with a confident penalty. 

Ecstatic at the now-level scoreline, the Denton players erupted in celebration as the ball nestled in the back of the net, but a level game did not satisfy them. They grabbed the ball immediately and placed it back in the centre circle, eager to use their exponentially growing momentum. 

Both teams gave everything to find the late winner, but it was Denton who were able to complete the most dramatic of turnarounds with only seconds to go. A long free kick was launched into Chadderton’s penalty area, and every available outfield player was fighting to win it, but it dropped onto the head of the player that Denton were desperate to find. Rushby, with his back to the goal, looped an inch-perfect header over the top of the Chadderton defence and goalkeeper and into the top corner of the net.

The already worked-up Denton fanbase exploded into noise once again, as there wasn’t enough time for Chadderton Reserves to respond. It was a spectacular final with both teams significantly contributing to an enthralling encounter, but there could only be one winner. 

Denton Town are your 2024 Saturday Challenge Trophy champions!