Heartbreak for Vics after cup semi-final thriller
Borrowash Victoria Reds saw their hopes of Saturday U15s Cup glory ended in dramatic fashion as visitors Heather Juniors Lions battled back from 4-1 down in the closing minutes of the game to eventually win the tie in extra-time.
A place in the final looked assured for Vics with six minutes to go and a three-goal lead in their favour, but a failure to see the game out combined with Lions throwing everything at them saw the visitors somehow pull level and eventually go on to secure their passage through.
The match, between the two sides also battling it out for league honours in DCFL Division One (Sat), was largely even throughout.
After keeper Kaden Moore had done well to tip a Lions free-kick wide eight minutes in, Vics' Leo King saw an effort deflected wide for the hosts.
Heather then saw two further chances go astray before a golden opportunity to take the lead was squandered from what was one of four penalties to be awarded in the match, Moore having brought down a Lions forward but the spot-kick being put wide of the post.
George Bell then saw an effort well saved at the other end before Vics went in front with a penalty of their own, King fouled after good work on the byline and dusting himself down to confidently put his side in front from the spot on 32 minutes.
Click through the gallery above for the story of the epic encounter. Photos by Kristen Goodall
Moore again had to save well as Heather responded but he had no chance on 37 minutes when a stunning long range strike from Alfie Donnelly found the top corner of the net via the underside of the crossbar to take the teams in level at half-time.
The second-half saw Lions go close in the opening moments before Vics responded with Noah Goodall's pull back finding Keenan Dickinson whose shot was saved, but then the hosts took the lead as a mistake at the back allowed King to nip in, round the goalkeeper and somehow find the net from a tight angle despite there being two defenders on the line.
Alex Devlin's header from a corner looped too high as Vics sought a third, then Moore had to be alert to produce a fine tackle at the other end having rushed out of his goal to deny a Lions forward who had been put through.
That proved key, as moments later Goodall's neat cushioned header sent King in on goal and he produced another fine finish to complete his hat-trick on 65 minutes.
The fourth soon followed, a throw in finding Goodall who cut inside and saw his shot deflected home to seemingly end the tie as a contest.
However, Lions had other ideas and with nothing to lose piled forward in the latter stages.
First, Harvey Marks' free-kick from out wide found its way straight into the corner of the net to reduce the arrears to 4-2, then a foul by Ollie Kellogg resulted in a penalty which was this time converted by Charlie Deacon to make it 4-3.
Then, in the dying seconds, and after Vics had missed a chance to kill the tie when Ernie Richardson's shot was saved, Kellogg was penalised again for a foul in the penalty area, perhaps somewhat harshly this time, and the spot-kick was again dispatched well by Deacon to send the tie into extra-time.
Chances were fewer in the extra 20 minutes, Devlin and Goodall seeing shots saved while Heather also saw an effort go close.
But the winner came in the second period. Vics had been reduced to ten men with King sin-binned for dissent after appearing to be fouled on the half way line but the foul having not been given. From the free-kick given to Heather instead, the ball was pumped forward and eventually dropped to Jack Coles 12 yards out and his low shot crept into the corner of the net to cap a remarkable fightback and leave Vics unable to rescue the tie.