There was drama a plenty in the PFA Senior Cup as both semi-finals went to penalty shoot-outs on Saturday.
Deeping Rangers Reserves fought back from two goals down to send their match against PDFL Premier Division title rivals Coates Athletic to penalties at Outgang Road.
Despite being under the cosh Rangers took the lead when Sam Thompson took advantage of a Coates error at the back.
However Coates, who defeated PDFL Premier Division leaders Oakham United in the quarter-final, were comfortably 3-1 up with seven minutes to go with former Deeping player Matt Heron, Liam Harrold and Simon Flanz on target, but the home side hit back to equalise in the final seconds.
Conor Pilbeam gave his side a prayer with a stunning turn and volley and Deeping could hardly believe it when they won a penalty for Sam Thompson to covert from the spot late in the game.
Despite being dominated in the first half the shoot-out was just reward for Rangers, who have invested in youth in their reserve side all season long and had seven U18s in their squad for their biggest game of the season.
If the club can keep and further develop this talented group of youngsters the future looks bright for Rangers.
Unfortunately for Deeping Reserves on Saturday Coates goalkeeper Lewis Moat was in fine form and saved the first three Deeping penalties, blocking efforts from Ben Leisner, Conor Pilbeam and Anthony Garmory. Jordan Smith was successful from the spot for Deeping but by that point the damage was done and Liam Harrold converted the decisive spot-kick to win the epic cup match.
Coates manager Andy Lodge said: “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in the final few minutes.
“But Deeping deserve all the credit available because they never stopped running and working even when the game looked beyond them. We didn’t play that well, but no-one will remember how you got to the final.
“I’m just relieved to have reached a final that should be a great advert for the Peterborough League.”
In the other semi-final Netherton United pipped holders Peterborough ICA 3-2 on spot-kicks following a 2-2 draw after 90 minutes at Ringwood.
Captain Ben Daly held his nerve to convert the match-winning penalty to send Netherton through to the May final at Peterborough United’s ABAX Stadium.
The result was harsh on ICA who had fought back from 2-0 down to force the shoot-out thanks to goals from Luke Bonney and Nathan Glover. Steve Mastin had earlier scored twice for Netherton.