Coalville Win Leicestershire Challenge Cup
The Ravens came from behind twice before getting the better of Loughborough Dynamo in a thrilling penalty shootout.
Goals from Nathan Watson and Daniel Creaney as well as penalty heroics from Elliott Taylor helped Coalville to victory in the Leicestershire Challenge Cup final.
On a drizzly evening at Holmes Park, with kick-off pushed back from 7.30pm to 8pm due to heavy traffic, neither side produced a sparkling performance, however Coalville held their nerve to edge the Moes, who compete in the division below the Ravens.
Just one change was made from Saturday’s impressive 3-0 victory at Stalybridge, with Daniel Creaney returning from suspension to replace Anthony Carney.
Coalville made a bright enough start to proceedings as Steve Towers had a shot deflected wide and Watson went close with an ambitious free kick attempt. However, in the eighth minute Loughborough took a shock lead. Karl Demidh drove down the left wing before centring the ball to Tolani Omotola who drilled the ball into the bottom right corner.
Josh Riley then went close to doubling the Moes’ lead two minutes later as his snap shot was deflected inches wide of the left post by Lee Torr.
It took until the 15 minute mark for Coalville to haul themselves back into the contest. A sublime first touch from Watson on a slippery surface made life tricky for Jack Andrews, who was too late with his challenge on the attacker and conceded a penalty. Watson then stepped up himself to slot the ball into the bottom right.
Half chances followed for both sides moments later, Taylor made a smart save to deny Riley before Creaney attempted to take advantage of Charlie Taylor being off his line, floating his 40-yard effort just wide.
The Ravens seemed to take the initiative as the first half wore on, with Watson stabbing a shot into the side netting and Steve Towers being denied from close range, but it was the opposition who again gained the advantage. Coalville’s corner frailties resurfaced in the 39th minute when Ash Hodgkinson powered a header towards goal at the back post, with the ball adjudged to have crossed the line by the linesman.
But Coalville didn’t lose their focus, levelling up the scores on the verge of half time. Towers threaded a pinpoint through ball to Creaney, who took the ball in his stride before mustering a shot that had too much power for Loughborough’s stopper, clipping Taylor before nestling high in the net.
Chances were few and far between in the second period as both sides lacked composure in the final third. Pushing for a winner also became an increasingly high risk strategy as both sides had already shown their ruthlessness on the counter.
In the 59th minute Creaney came within inches of sending Coalville on their way to glory, nodding just wide after an inch perfect delivery from Watson. Danny Gordon then went even closer for Loughborough just minutes later, producing a rasping drive from the left flank which cannoned off the outside of the post.
Demidh almost netted his second of the evening as the contest approached the final 20 minutes. The Moes number 10 found space to shoot on the edge of the box, however his dangerous attempt was inadvertently blocked by his team mate Riley.
Late chances did fall for both sides in the final stages as Alex Dean's cross narrowly evaded Creaney and Gordon planted a header wide, but nothing could stop the eventuality of a dreaded penalty shootout.
It was a nightmare start to the shootout for the Ravens, with Watson, who had already converted a spot-kick in normal time, lashing the ball way over the bar.
Loughborough kept their composure to convert their first three spot-kicks, through Omotola, Louis Keenan and Paolo Piligro, but the Ravens kept themselves in it thanks to successful conversions from Creaney, Kyle Dixon and Towers.
The Moes eventually slipped up with their fourth penalty as Taylor dived excellently to his right to deny Hodgkinson. However, Dean sidefooted Coalville's following penalty wide, giving Demidh the chance to secure the cup for Loughborough.
But a weak penalty from the Moes striker was saved by the feet of Taylor, giving the Ravens a lifeline. Kyle Bryant, Lee Torr, goalkeeper Taylor and Anthony Carney for the Ravens and Jared Holmes, Gordon and Jack Andrews for Loughborough then all netted their efforts in sudden death before Riley blazed the decisive spot kick over to give Coalville a dramatic victory.
It's a victory that will feel particularly sweet for the Ravens, making up for last year's final defeat to Barwell and ensuring manager Tommy Brookbanks ends his managerial career on a high with at least one bit of silverware.
Coalville will play their final league game of the season against Rushall on Saturday at the Mander Cruickshank Stadium before travelling to Alfreton to face Atherton Collieries in the Integro League Cup on Wednesday evening.