Eccleshill United 2 Knaresborough Town 2
after extra-time, Knaresborough win 4-2 on penalties
There was no double delight at Valley Parade for Eccleshill United, just penalty shoot-out heartbreak as they lost the Toolstation Northern Counties East League Cup final to Division One counterparts Knaresborough Town.
The Eagles had won on their previous visit to the ground in the West Riding County Cup final a month earlier and had chances to lift their second trophy of the campaign.
Eccleshill manger Lee Duxbury said: “It’s one of those times when you’re disappointed but you’re not. We lost the game but I said to the players in the dressing room that they shouldn’t be disappointed by that.
“They only lost on penalties and they should be glad that they had been in two big cup finals.
“It must have been a cracking game for the neutrals. It was end to end and a good tempo throughout. Our players shouldn’t be feeling bad for being involved in a game like that.
“We were pushing forward and creating and we had chances to win it. Their goalkeeper got man of the match and that tells me something.”
It was a frantic opening spell as both teams looked to stamp their mark on the final and Boro opened the scoring in the ninth minute when striker Colin Heath buried a fierce shot from eight yards after a cut-back from Dominic Wilson.
When the Eagles’ Charlie Flaherty flicked the ball over Boro right back Paul Stansfield a minute later, it was stopped by the defender’s outstretched hand. With the chance on of a run towards goal, referee Jason Knowles had a big decision to make, and he settled for yellow.
The game was like two top middleweight boxers going head to head, punching and jabbing while flitting round at speed.
The Eagles levelled midway through the first half when a Marcus Edwards corner was forced over the line by Flaherty as a group of players at the far post challenged for the ball.
Three minutes later they were in front as Edwards, the NCEL Division One top scorer, added to his season’s tally. He fired home after good work from Ishmeal Mills at the far post.
The tie was level again just three minutes into the second half when Heath bagged his second. His header from a Byron Littlefair cross went in off the post.
Weston Marau was the busier of the two keepers and he made some superb saves as Eccleshill pressed for a winner in the second half and both halves of extra-time.
The outcome was left to the dreaded penalty shoot-out and the tension built as Boro’s sub Seb Carole netted the first while Edwards’ was saved by Marau. Boro’s David Thomas hit the post with their second but all the others hit the target and they ran out 4-2 victors.