GOALKEEPER Sam Thomson was the hero for Corsham Centre Youth as two penalty shootout saves helped Pete Ralph’s side to victory over Premier Division champions and WG Parr Trophy victors The Castle FC.
Thomson only donned the gloves for the penalty lottery in place of Ross Lye after normal and extra time of the AM Print & Copy-sponsored Eric Hughes Memorial Knockout Cup had ended all square at 1-1.
In a first half that saw Corsham squander chance after chance to find the net, with Simon Gray being the culprit, it took a Ben Thomson goal to separate the teams at half time.
Corsham, who started at a frantic pace, missed their first chance on five minutes with wasting a good opportunity.
Ben Thomson was next to try his luck but shot wide when well placed, Castle keeper Matt Tilley then did well to deny Gray on 12 minutes and a few moments later a brilliant cross after a mazy run from Alex Hillier picked out Thomson who snap shot flew wide of the target.
Gray had another great chance to open the scoring on 15 minutes, after rounding keeper Tilley he flashed a shot wide of the upright.
It was then the turn of Thomson to fluff his lines in front of goal again failing to test keeper Tilley when well placed. Thomson did finally make the breakthrough on 20 minutes with a good finish to put the Centre into what was a deserved lead.
Castle had yet to test Corsham keeper Ross Lye and they were given a chance on 32 minutes, but from a free kick some 35 yards out, Jack Hooper drove a powerful strike wide of the mark. At the other end Centre won a free kick of their own and although the delivery was good Craig Gingell poked his shot inched wide.
With the first half drawing to a close, Gray's stooping header found the grateful hands of keeper Tilley, before the usually reliable striker continued his match to forget when with just the keeper to beat he knocked his shot from eight yards wide of the goal.
There was still chance for Centre to waste more chances, James Lye’s corner found the head of Thomson whose effort glanced wide of the target and with almost the last action of the half Gray fired over from 18 yards.
Castle, although having a far share of possession in the first half, never really had a shot of note but that changed in the second half as they came out all guns blazing.
On 47 minutes they were on level terms, as a defence-splitting ball from Jack Hooper found Adam Heath in an onside position despite Centre’s pleas for a flag and Heath planted the ball beyond Lye for 1-1.
It was Centre who had the next real chance on goal but they had to wait until the 66th minute, Liam Ralph’s cross found Darrin Moss who drilled his close-range strike over the bar.
A snap shot from Castle’s Rob Mitchell on 83 minutes found the grateful hands of Lye and that was the closest they went to getting a second as the Centre finished with a flourish, both Ben Thomson and substitute Adam Shipman going close to nicking a winner in normal time.
Extra time was fairly uneventful with neither keeper having to make a save so after 30 meaningless minutes the game went to penalties.
Corsham changed keeper Ross Lye with Sam Thomson and the first things he had to do was pick Joe Unsworth’s spot kick out of the net as Castle drew first blood.
Thomson stepped up to take the first Centre penalty but keeper Tilley produced a fine stop to keep his team ahead.
Heath then hit the bar for Castle and Ross Lye tucked his effort away to level things up.
Dan Sloan had the chance to regain the lead for Castle, but his effort was brilliantly saved by Thomson.
It was down to Stuart Tutty to give Centre the advantage which he did with a coolly-taken penalty. Marcus Wallen made no mistake as he scored to level things up at 2-2. Alex Hillier was next up for the Centre and his strike sailed over the bar.
The match was back in the melting pot and when Jack Bramwell fired in for the Castle it was down to Matt Ralph to keep Centre in the game which he did by making it 3-3.
It was now down to sudden death and Doug Dickson made the long walk as he hoped to put Castle in front, his penalty was struck low and hard right down the middle but the outstretched leg of Thomson somehow kept it out.
Thomson himself took on the responsibility of winning it for the Centre and he did so by getting the better of his opposite number, his effort creeping inside the right-hand post just beating the diving Tilley who was inches away of getting his hand to the ball.
Centre’s players then raced from the centre circle to swamp keeper Thomson who was later presented with the player of the match award for his penalty shootout heroics.
Corsham Centre Youth who became the first team from Division Four to lift the Knockout Cup and losing finalists Castle FC received their mementos from Roxi Meaden, of cup sponsors AM Print & Copy.
Winning captain Liam Ralph collected the trophy on behalf of the Centre.
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