Atherstone Town came out on top in a thrilling contest against Tividale FC at the home of Sutton Coldfield Town FC. Both sides had the lead at different stages during this contest, with the match being decided on penalties.
Tividale almost opened the scoring early on through Darragh Bustin, who snuck in at the back post and headed narrowly over the bar. Atherstone then began to take control of the early stages in this contest and were rewarded shortly after.
A free kick from 25-yards out was curled into the top corner by Alex Naughton to give his side the lead. The distance from goal, the strike and placement ensured that it will go down as one of the best County Cup goals of the season.
A series of chances then fell to Tividale, firstly through Dan Smith who fired his shot over from close range. Curtis Cocking then shaped up to shoot from outside the box, but saw his effort fly over the bar after slipping at the vital moment.
They were punished for these missed opportunities shortly after when the ball was played to substitute Sam McLintock. He beat the offside trap and flicked his finish over the onrushing goalkeeper, into the bottom left-hand corner, to give Atherstone a 2-0 lead midway through the opening 45 minutes.
A crazy 10-minute spell then followed as the match completely turned on its head. A cross was swept in to Dan Smith, who made no mistake with his finish this time around by sweeping the ball into the bottom right-hand corner.
The score soon turned level when Tividale won a penalty, which was converted by Bustin into the bottom left-hand corner. He then scored a remarkable free kick, similar to Atherstone’s, as his effort found the bottom right-hand corner. This sparked amazing scenes for Tividale’s players and fans, as they found themselves leading the contest shortly after it looked like they were out of it.
After a frantic first half, the second petered out with both sides failing to create many chances. Atherstone were chasing the game as they looked to retain their title, however, and found themselves level through Kyle Baxter. His effort from outside the box evaded the keepers grasp who, on reflection, would have hoped to have done better with the strike.
This meant the tie would be decided by penalties, with the first four being converted. Then McLintock stepped up for Atherstone, but his effort was palmed away comfortably. Fortunately for him, luck was on his side as Demetri Brown’s tame penalty was also saved. Smith then missed his penalty for Tividale, giving Baxter the opportunity to retain the title for his side.
Atherstone’s captain stepped up and placed his penalty into the bottom right-hand corner. The goalkeeper got his hand to the ball, but could not prevent it from going in. Baxter celebrated by embracing the Atherstone fans behind the goal, who were rewarded for travelling in numbers to watch their side.
The win means Atherstone Town are the first side to retain the Midweek Floodlit Challenge Cup, after lifting the trophy in 2018 as well.