Anstey Nomads Crowned 2024 Challenge Cup Champions 

Anstey Nomads staged a comeback from a one-goal deficit to clinch victory against Loughborough Students and win the Challenge Cup.

Loughborough Students 1-2 Anstey Nomads 


The eagerly awaited return of the Challenge Cup final after a five-year hiatus did not disappoint. Anstey Nomads staged a remarkable comeback from a one-goal deficit to clinch a victory against Loughborough Students, marking their historic first-ever win of the Challenge Cup.


Loughborough Students were undefeated in their last five games, which included an impressive 7-0 victory against Skegness Town in the United Counties Football League Premier Division Play-Off final, securing promotion to Step 4 football. 

Anstey Nomads had a stellar season in the Midlands Division of the Northern Premier League, finishing second, only a point behind champions Spalding Town. Despite missing out on promotion in a close playoff final against Harborough Town, Tony Blanchard's squad sought redemption in the Challenge Cup final, eager to clinch victory after their promotion heartbreak.

The game started off at a frantic pace, with both sides eager to dominate possession from the start of the final. Within the opening five minutes, Corey Armeni and Samuel Fielding had opportunities, but their attempts soared over the crossbar.


Action from the first half


In the 18th minute, Nyle Blake nearly broke the deadlock with his swift footwork on the left flank, creating a clear opportunity. However, Toby Larsen in the Loughborough goal comfortably saved his powerful shot towards goal.


As the clock ticked on, the Nomads started to gain a strong foothold in the game, making it difficult for Jamie Clapham’s side to gain any real possession of the ball. 


Blake was a real threat in the first half and had another chance to open the scoring in the 20th minute after he raced down towards the goal and fired a venomous strike that was parried away by Larsen.


Although Tony Blanchard’s side had the best chances early in the game, the newly promoted Loughborough Student’s side were a formidable threat on the break. 


In the 22nd minute, their danger man, Dylan Edwards, skilfully evaded the Nomads' right-back before unleashing a shot that found the side netting.

Challenge Cup final referee, Ruebyn Ricardo, in action


On the stroke of half-time, against the run of play, Anstey Nomads were made to pay for their missed chances when Loughborough’s playmaker, Halim Bangura, picked the ball up from midfield and sprayed a delightful pass into Edwards, who beat his man for pace and fired a composed strike into the bottom corner to score his 31st goal of the season in all competitions. 

Emerging from the half-time break, it was clear that the Northern Premier League side had shifted gears, displaying a more aggressive approach, pressing forward and aiming to restrict Loughborough's time on the ball.

In the 51st minute, the Nomads grabbed an early equaliser. Blake, a consistent threat throughout the game, seized control on the left wing. With precision, he delivered a pinpoint pass across the goal to Robinson, who found himself with ample time inside the box, which allowed him to turn and strike a lovely shot into the top corner.

Anstey Nomads persisted with their relentless pressure on the defensive line. Yet, whenever Jamie Clapham’s side took possession, they showcased a masterful display of passing and ball control.

This prowess almost led to a goal around the hour mark when Maltese winger Alexander Spiteri delivered a sublime cross to Bangura, whose shot narrowly missed the target.

Action from the second half

In the 65th minute, the relentless pressure from the Nomads finally paid off as a loose pass from the students' defence was intercepted by Blake. 

Demonstrating exceptional agility, Blake swiftly maneuvered past his defender down the left-wing before delivering a cross to Robinson. With clinical precision, Robinson netted his second goal of the match, propelling his team into the lead for the first time.

Throughout the remainder of the second half, Loughborough had opportunities to level the scoreline. Felipe Morales and Michael Wicks both had chances, but their shots missed the target.

However, the seasoned experience of Anstey Nomads proved pivotal as they maintained a resilient defence, ultimately securing the prestigious Challenge Cup title. 


Player of the Match Nyle Blake with Westerby Group Managing Director Steve Harvey (left) and County FA Life Member Gordon Wells (right)


Match Officials: Sam Wesson (Assistant Referee), Ruebyn Ricardo (Referee), Oliver Mackey (Fourth Official, (Assistant Referee) and Karl Donaghey

Attendance: 272

Photography - Alexandra Johnson 



Tony Blanchard - Anstey Nomads manager

Jamie Clapham - Loughborough Students manager



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