Paget Rangers overcame a one goal deficit to lift the Les James Challenge Cup in a tense final against Redditch Borough.
The last time the sides met it looked like the Bears would be facing another year in Division 2 and that their eventual fellow finalists Redditch would easily win at Banks’s Stadium.
It was the Bears who would have the first chance of the game as Daniel Carter saw his effort in the fourth minute blocked, but Redditch successfully countered a Paget attack minutes later when Liam Fullerton bombed down the right, and sent a low cross into the path of Billy Garvey who poked the ball into the Paget net.
Rangers responded quickly with Ross Dempster sending a long range shot wide, before sending the ball into the keeper’s hands, Carter also saw another shot blocked.
Paget began to create more chances and put pressure on Redditch, but Borough responded and just after the 20th minute mark almost had a second but Garvey’s shot went just wide.
Only a few minutes passed before the Bears were put under pressure again, Fullerton beat the offside trap but Dean Crowley’s heroic challenge nullified the danger. Paget countered and Jeorge Smith was inches away from meeting a Luke Bradley cross.
With the 30 minute mark approaching Smith missed another good chance again putting a shot just wide, and only a minute later Garvey could have doubled his side’s lead but sent a sitter wide.
Either side could have been in the lead going into half-time with the chances created in the first half, and the Wee Gers would have to do better in the second half if they were to lift the trophy.
Paget almost started the second half with a bang but captain Craig Evans long range shot went straight over the bar, but it was a wake up call for Redditch who began to take control of the game.
Borough’s control of the game didn’t last long and a promising cross across the face of their goal would have shaken them up, which it clearly did when they conceded a free kick on the right side.
Dean Morris stepped up looping the ball over the goalkeeper to level the score, the Bears were back in it.
Redditch could have taken the lead in a similar manner when they were awarded a free kick close to the Paget box, but their effort was plucked out the air by Josh Benton. On the counter Dempster played through Morris but the goalkeeper beat the Paget scorer to the ball.
Substitute Myles Phipps made an almost instant impact with just over 20 minutes left, his pinpoint cross was sent over by Dempster, but it highlighted the danger of the Paget substitute.
Both sides had chances to take the lead, but with the 90 minute mark soon approaching it looked like the score would remain 1-1, that is until Carter latched onto Craig Gasiewski’s cross heading into the net.
It wasn’t over yet as the fourth official frustratingly announced a minimum of four minutes to be added on, the Bears managed to hold on and after almost five minutes of play the whistle was blown. The bench and Paget staff stormed the pitch as the celebrations began.
Updated 22:22 - 17 May 2017 by Joshua Smith