Cononley Sports 1 Wilsden Athletic 1
(Wilsden win 9-8 on penalties)
See 120 pictures from the final in the Photo Gallery, here.
Wilsden made up for last season’s Northern Plant Hire Trophy final defeat against Trawden in nail-biting fashion at Gargrave this evening.
A match of few chances looked to have been decided when Cononley’s Steve Pearson flicked in Miroslav Allen’s corner after 87 minutes.
But a stunning strike from Alex Lancaster four minutes into stoppage time forced a penalty shoot-out.
All 22 players took kicks before Cononley’s Sam Ash sent his second kick over the bar and Joel Hardy kept his nerve to fire in Wilsden’s winner with the 24th kick of the decider.
Cononley held the upper hand for much of the game, although Wilsden always looked dangerous on the break. But a bumpy pitch with long grass made passing moves rare and several good build-ups fizzled out when the ball held up at crucial moments.
Wilsden had strong claims for a penalty turned down after five minutes and two minutes later Cononley came close when Chris Lumsden created space on the edge of the area but Scott Etherington pushed his shot into the side-netting.
After 29 minutes Craig Donegan saw his shot blocked and the rebound fell kindly for Pearson but his rasping drive from a tight angle was well saved by Etherington at the foot of his near post.
Man of the match Lee Thompson sent a 20-yard effort sizzling just wide and Mark Bradley’s bullet header slammed against a post before Etherington pulled off a stunning save to keep out a wayward clearance from his own defender Johnny Crease.
Wilsden weathered that storm and should have gone ahead when Chris Mawson advanced on goal from the halfway line and slipped the ball through for captain Ryan Gill but he miskicked and the chance went begging.
A through ball then held up in the long grass and Jack Lancaster latched on to it before the defence but Shane Parker saved with his feet at his near post and Dave McArten sent the loose ball over the bar.
Wilsden continued to push forward after the break and Gill sent a header wide from Tom Beetham’s cross.
Sustained Cononley pressure looked to have earned them a way through after 63 minutes but a loose ball ricochetted around the penalty area with no one able to get a telling touch until Lumsden hammered a shot over the bar.
With 13 minutes to go, Allen’s corner eluded everyone and looked destined for the top corner until Etherington flicked out his arm to deflect the ball away from danger.
Four minutes later Mark Bradley burst in from the wing but his shot across the face of goal found no supporting teammate.
Then, with just three minutes to go, came what looked the likely winner. Allen floated his corner to the near post and Pearson got the faintest of touches to send the ball into the roof of the net.
Deep into stoppage time came the equaliser. A throw-in looked to have been wasted when the ball flew straight up into the air but, with the Cononley defence distracted, Lancaster picked the ball up 35-yards out and crashed a glorious shot straight through the arms of Parker.
Cononley had time to force one more corner before Stuart Hoyle blew for full-time and the game went straight into a penalty shoot-out.
Lumsden hit the bar with Cononley’s second and the shoot-out looked to be going in Wilsden’s favour when Lancaster, McArten, and Beetham all found the target.
Pearson, Donegan and Allen successfully despatched their kicks for Cononley to make it 4-4 and Lancaster was tasked with converting the winner but Parker saved his shot low to his right to move the shoot-out into sudden death.
Etherington saved Thompson’s effort but Parker did likewise from Jordan Woolsey.
Successful conversions by Nick Kaminski, Jamie Page, Bradley and Sean Lloyd for Cononley were matched by Wilsden’s Dave Goodchild, Gill, Johnny Crease and Ben Molloy to make it 8-8, leaving just the goalkeepers to take their kicks.
But they saved each others’ efforts to bring the shoot-out back full circle.
This time, Ash fired his shot over the bar but Molloy kept his cool to spark Wilsden celebrations.
Cononley: Parker, Lloyd, Page, Pearson, Kaminski, Allen, Donegan, Thompson, Lumsden, Bradley, Mulloy (Ash, 59 mins). Substitutes (not used): Shaw, Seward.
Goal: Pearson (87).
Wilsden: Etherington, Crease, Goodchild, Lancaster, Woolsey, Ingham (Molloy, half-time), Beetham, Mawson (J Hardy, 60), McArten, Gill, Lancaster. Substitute (not used): C Hardy.
Goal: Lancaster (90+4).
Referee: Stuart Hoyle. Assistants: David Helliwell, Willie Naylor.
See Photo Gallery for 120 pictures from the final, here.