Martin Boon was the unlikely hero as Warley Rangers produced a stunning shoot-out victory over a shell shocked Brighouse Sports to reach the final of the Halifax FA Saturday Cup.
The winger had taken over in goal after Michael Hickinbotham had been sent off with 15 minutes remaining and went on to save two penalties before scoring the winning penalty himself in a dramatic game more suited to Hollywood than Brighouse.
The game had looked up for Rangers when they trailed 2-0 entering the 90th minute after they had been comprehensively outplayed by division-lower Sports.
Substitute Mark Kelsey scored what looked like a consolation goal but in the six added minutes he grabbed an equaliser, sliding in to meet Dan Kirman’s flicked header and hooking the ball into the bottom corner.
Brighouse had more than merited a place at the showpiece event. Playing at home and with the slope in their favour on a quagmire of a pitch, they were first to every ball.
Captain Chris Allen spurned a glorious chance inside two minutes, Conor Durkin struck the bar with an acrobatic volley and Warley’s Adam Squire headed a whipped free kick off the line.
Carlton Balmer struck the outside of a post in a rare Warley raid before the unfortunate Squire deflected a fizzed cross past the prone Hickinbotham into the roof of the net for the opener.
The Rangers keeper then saved well from Tom Drake’s powerful free kick as Rangers somehow survived until the break only one goal down.
Warley struggled to break down a determined and well marshalled Sports defence and the home side, with pace in abundance, doubled their advantage through the excellent Gary Binns.
Hickinbotham raced out to clear a long ball and collided with Binns, who had knocked it past him. Despite two men being on the line, the Warley custodian was shown a straight red card for being reckless.
Boon, who had never played in goal before, made three good saves to stop Brighouse before Kelsey’s late brace
Each side converted scored three of their first four penalties. Boon then produced a brilliant stop from Binns’ shot before placing the ball on the spot and dispatching with aplomb to settle a remarkable game.
Warley will play Huddersfield Amateurs in the final. The West Yorkshire League side were 3-1 home winners against Sowerby Bridge at Old Earth, Elland.
Halifax AFL Division One side Bridge had the better of the first half and turned round a goal to the good.
They took the lead when Luke Maguire and Lee Wood combined superbly before Maguire blasted the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Bridge had strong shouts for a penalty on the stroke of half time, but their appeals were in vain and that proved a turning point.
A big Amateurs side, who were beaten 1-0 in last year’s Shay final by Ryburn, turned up the heat after the break and they got a headed equaliser.
Chris Punda shinned the ball into his own net to give Amateurs the lead and Matty Parker sealed victory against a Bridge side who gave a good account of themselves.