Altrincham 2-2 Congleton Town
(Congleton win 4-2 on penalties)
By Noah Wakefield
Photographs courtesy of Bryn Jackson
North West Counties Football League side Congleton Town inflicted discomfort into the hearts of Altrincham on Thursday evening after a triumphant penalty shootout following a 2-2 stalemate, which ended their 85-year wait to once again lift the Cheshire Senior Cup.
Strikes from Regan Linney and captain Jordan Hulme cancelled out first-half efforts from Daniel Needham and an own goal, with Congleton securing victory, winning 4-2 on penalties.
A positive start from Altrincham provided hope for all in red and white, with Regan Linney beating his man for pace down the left flank before cutting a low cross beyond the face of goal and forcing a tactical clearance from Jordi Nsaka.
Another promising attack from Altrincham saw Harry Perritt deliver a faultless ball into the feet of Linney who could only fire wide from inside the area. However, just as Altrincham were beginning to establish their authoritative style into the game, it was Congleton who struck first.
After Tom Pope was able to dispossess John Lundstram in the middle of the park, a quick one-two rewarded Needham with the desired space for a shot on goal, with his pin-point right-footed effort getting the better of Matt Gould and nestling into the bottom corner to hand his side the lead just ten minutes in.
Alty sought an immediate response after Isaac Marriott’s remarkable switch out to Perritt allowed the full-back to burst down the right before directing a powerful effort goalwards, but was ricocheted onto the post by the outstretched arm of David Parton.
Across the opposite end, Congleton came exceptionally close to doubling their lead after an in-swinging corner ball was met by the head of Ryan Read but cleared off the line by Perritt, allowing Gould to collect the remains.
End-to-end action provided from both sides left all certain another goal was close, but questioning who it would favour.
Alty advanced methodically, playing quick passes around the Congleton midfield. Eddy Jones then spotted the run of Hulme, playing an impressive ball over the top before the Striker was able to cut inside and bury a composed strike into the far corner to make the game all square once again.
Yet the impermanence of this was demonstrated after just five minutes. A corner ball swung in from the right slipped through the hands of Gould, causing it to bundle over the line and into the back of the net to gift Congleton the lead on the stroke of half-time.
Following an additional four minutes at the end of the first-half, the two sides entered the interval with Altrincham’s deficit evident yet minimal.
Alty got the game back underway following the break, immediately posing a threat to Congleton’s narrow lead. Linney drove forward into the area before playing a ball square to the feet of Aaron Bennett but, with the goal at his mercy, could only fire wide.
Yet after frequently coming close to levelling, Alty were eventually able to find the impetus to access success.
Lundstram played a clever through-ball into the path of Marriott who was able to fire in a first-time cross which was flicked on by Hulme to put his side back on level terms.
Now looking for a winner, Alty advanced forward with audible support from all sides of the ground.
A lofted ball into the centre was cleared away but only as far as substitute Zak Goodson whose first touch was well performed, yet couldn’t pair it with a suitable finish.
After 90 minutes, the game concluded a draw and was subsequently decided on penalty kicks.
Altrincham converted two out of the four they took, but this record was improved on by Congleton, who were able to convert all four with Lewis Short scoring the winning penalty and sending the 435 away fans into cacophonic joy.
A trophy celebration was soon displayed for the champions, displaying their success throughout this year's Cheshire Senior Cup.
Gould, Perritt, Ferguson, J. Jones, E. Jones, Lundstram, Marriott, Burgess, Hulme, Bennett, Linney
Parton, Faulkner, Nsaka, Williams, Read, Short, Johns, Jones-Griffiths, Pope, Hartshorn, Needham
1153 (435 away)