A PUB football team paying tribute to a former landlord came within a whisker of making it to the semi-finals of a national tournament last week.

Arms SMB, representing The George Inn, in St Mary Bourne, were one of 190 teams to enter this year’s BT Sport Pub Cup.

They went on to win four games out of four during the regional heats on Wednesday last week at St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton, without conceding a single goal.

But they came unstuck in their final match, losing on penalties.

Victory would have sent the team to Manchester City’s academy complex for the national semi-finals, before a possible trip to St James’ Park, in Newcastle, for the final.

Former The George Inn landlord Phil Cockcroft had entered SMB Arms into the tournament before his passing in March and Lee Cogan, who managed and played for the team, says he thinks Phil would have been proud of the side.

“He would’ve loved it,” said Lee, “he would’ve been proud I imagine.

“It’s a nice touch that he entered us into it because I have never heard of it.

“It’s just a shame we couldn’t win it for him.”

The tournament was played under seven-a-side rules, with each team playing three group games ahead of the day’s semi-final and final games.

Arms SMB began the day with high hopes, having won numerous local trophies last season.

A strong start saw them win their opening match 1-0 thanks to Reece Rusher’s goal, before a 4-0 win in game two was sealed when Saints fan Mr Cogan scored in his team’s home stadium.

A 3-0 win in the final group game followed, and a 2-0 win in the semi-final sent Arms to within one game of making it to Manchester.

However, they found themselves up against a side from The Beacon, in Basingstoke, with a squad featuring three Basingstoke Town players and another formerly of current League One club Peterborough United.

A tight game went to penalties, which were made even more difficult by the smaller seven-a-side goal sizes. Arms’ Louis Attril eventually shot his spot-kick over the bar as his side fell just short.

Despite the defeat, Mr Cogan says the team already have hopes of entering again next season.