Stockbridge 3

Whitchurch United 3.

aet Stocks won 6-5 on pens.

Jamie Coleman slammed home the 11th spot-kick of a tense shoot out to clinch the Andover League Open Cup for Stockbridge after a gripping two hours of action at New Street’s Foxcotte Park on Wednesday night.

It triggered a race with the whole squad to celebrate with outgoing manager Stuart Thomson, for whom this was a fitting encore.

Whitchurch arrived on the back of their promotion celebrations on Saturday at Brockenhurst while the Robins’ squad had endured a difficult few days after the news broke that Thomson was leaving the club and when Sam Argent tucked away an Isaac Sedu cross on ten minutes it looked ominous.

However, Steve Witt and Coleman tested Tom Hindmarsh in the Jamboys’ goal before he was adjudged to have brought down Mike Barker in the area and Danny Field levelled from the spot.

Whitchurch boss Jim Macey threw on Paul Coventry at half-time and within moments he hit the post with a drive and Stockbridge made the most of the reprieve as in their next attack Jack Hutchings poked home a loose ball to give his side the lead.

With both teams feeling the effects of a long campaign Louis Macey got on the end of a corner and made it 2-2 with minutes left and the big centre forward almost won it at the death as his volley squirmed away from Robin’s keeper Pete Roberts but he recovered and the game went into extra-time.

The play spread to all parts as tiredness showed and Witt, Hutchings and Gavin Burgess all went close then Jake Freemantle all but sliced into his own net, but substitute Chris Smalley stunned the Robins’ fans with eight minutes left when his half volley from 25 yards flew past Roberts for what should have been the winner. With two hours played and referee Colin Hopkins ready to blow for full-time Stockbridge won a free-kick by the corner flag and with keeper Roberts joining the fray Witt’s inch perfect cross was nodded home by Hutchings to trigger chaotic scenes.

All ten spot-kicks went in before Macey skied his shot to leave Coleman to clinch the cup for Stockbridge and manager Thomson.

It was a superb climax and was sweet revenge for the Robins who lost the final on penalties to Whitchurch 12 months ago.

For Thomson it was a bitter sweet moment after 17 years at the Rec while it will not take the gloss of what has been a momentous campaign for Whitchurch.

Read more on Stockbridge FC here tomorrow