St Ives Rangers completed an honours double after lifting the Hunts Junior Cup on a night of drama.
Dominic Moody’s men prevailed 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out against AFC Barley Mow – the same team they also pipped to Cambs League Division 1B title glory - in a thrilling showpiece clash last Wednesday.
The two sides shared six goals during 90 minutes of breathless battle at the Premier Plus Stadium in St Neots before teenage Rangers goalkeeper Jack Dawson took centre stage in the shoot-out with two match-winning saves.
Moody said: “Everyone is absolutely delighted to have done the double. It’s a great effort all-round especially after having such a poor start to the season when winning only one of our first six games.
“But we’ve been unbeaten since then and the lads deserve their success. The challenge now is to try to push on in Kershaw Senior B Division next season.
“We hadn’t practised penalties in advance and didn’t even bring the subject up. I had plenty of lads willing to take one and step up to the plate and Jack made two great saves.
“He has stepped up from the youth set-up and is a very good goalkeeper. He’s grown into the role as the season has gone on.”
The tone was set by two goals in the opening five minutes of an end-to-end-contest.
Rangers, who warmed up in t-shirts bearing the name of former manager Rob Brindley, who died last December following a battle against cancer, hit the front in their first attack.
Stephen Hastings headed in a corner to provide the perfect start, but his effort was quickly cancelled out by Josh Turner. The high-scoring Barley frontman completed a first-half turnaround when heading his side into the lead just before the break, but Rangers came roaring back with a double scoring salvo just before the hour.
Mohammed Islam provided both goals as he struck a volley and a header from Jack Haycock crosses and his brace looked like being enough to settle the issue.
But the Barley boys had other ideas and levelled in sensational style thanks to a 25-yard screamer from substitute Nick Gingell with seven minutes to go.
That ensured the tie would be decided from the spot where Dorien Sarsby, Arnie Harvey, Islam and Haycock (via the crossbar, the back of Barley goalkeeper Graeme Drewery and the post) all found the net for Rangers.
But Gingell and Sean Cane were both denied by Dawson, who’s exploits earned him the player-of-the-match accolade, as Rangers triumphed.
AFC Barley Mow player-boss Sean Sweeney admitted: “It was a great cup tie to be involved in, but one which ended in a cruel way. A penalty shoot-out is always a lottery and we didn’t have the winning ticket.
“The lads showed a lot of fight to come from behind twice and we had our chances to win it at the end.”