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Spennymoor sealed a place in the play-off final after a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Brackley Town, setting up a showdown with Chorley at Victory Park.
In a game filled with remarkable misses, goal line clearances and moments of disbelief, the game ended goalless after an enthralling 120 minutes of action.
After Rob Ramshaw saw his spot kick saved by Danny Lewis, Lee Ndolvu spurned the chance to send Brackley through after he blazed his penalty, allowing Lewis Hawkins to seal an iconic and memorable victory.
Jason Ainsley made one change to the side which beat Bradford (Park Avenue) on Wednesday, opting to replace Kris Thackray with Jake Hibbs in midfield.
With the stakes so high and the sheer nature of the occasion so big, the first half was understandably a tense and tight affair with few chances for both sides.
Brackley striker Lee Ndlovu had a chance almost immediately after kick-off, but his tame effort was easily saved by Matt Gould and then cleared by the covering Matt Gould.
The Saints were the brighter side in the opening exchanges and their creative midfielder Carl Baker, with the former Nuneaton man going close.
As the half neared its conclusion the game saw its two most open chances, with Hawkins curling an effort just over the bar, before Glenn Walker hit a shot which deflected straight into the hands of the alert Gould.
The second half, at times, defied logic, as both sides spurned glorious chances in a hectic affair. Taylor saw a header drift just wide from Stephen Brogan’s laser like free kick, and then Lewis superbly kept out Ramshaw’s brilliant turn and hit from close range.
A huge turning point in the contest came 25 minutes from full time when Moors somehow survived an onslaught in the penalty area. Gould made several saves before Brackley saw another effort cleared off the line.
Baker had previously missed a clear chance six yards out after Ndlovu’s low cross, but a common theme of missing chances would eventually come back to haunt the 2018 FA Trophy winners.
A now incredible contest swayed once again when Brogan’s corner hit the bar, then Ryan Hall saw a shot from a tight angle squirm marginally wide of the post.
The game entered a tense first half period of extra time period in which both sides struggled to create chances, but Baker showed his class again when he made space and struck a shot off the bar.
There was still the feeling that Moors would have one more chance with the game heading towards penalties, and that arrived when Taylor’s precise pass found the run of substitute Adam Boyes, but he slid the ball wide, sending manager Jason Ainsley to his knees on the touchline.
With three minutes remaining of extra time, Ndlovu missed the games clearest chance, somehow putting a shot wide after a mix up from Gould and Brogan.
That miss saw the end of a breathless 120 minutes of action, signalling a tense and nail biting penalty shoot out.
Ramshaw was the first player to miss after a host of superb spot kicks, giving Ndlovu the chance to send The Saints through to the final, but the striker skied his effort high over the bar.
Boyes kept his cool, heaping the pressure on Luke Fairlamb. The Brackley man sent his spot kick wide of Gould’s left hand post, allowing Hawkins the opportunity to seal a famous win.
Hawkins, who scored the goal that put Moors in the semi-final, found the bottom corner to spark a pitch invasion and wild celebrations in the away end.
Moors travel to Chorley next Sunday for the play-off final.
|Club||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals||Outcome|
|5th May 2019||3:00 pm||National League North||2018/19||1279|