By Jamie Durent
Sun 06th May 2012 : 10:28
As has been an on-running theme this season, Team Northumbria never do things the easy way.
Spennymoor Town dominated for large spells of a topsy-turvy Brookes Mileson Memorial Cup semi-final at Coach Lane.
But after a 3-3 tie at the end of extra time, TN triumphed 4-2 in the penalty shootout.
"We certainly like to take games as far as they can go," said TN boss Paul Johnson.
"After the two games earlier this week it's shown what we're all about to rebound like this.
"I personally didn't have to do anything pre-game as it was the players who wanted to go out and prove a point."
The home side had barely got out of the blocks when the visitors took the lead as Stephen Capper's header came back off the bar for an easy headed finish for Stephen Foster.
TN responded with a trademark passing move involving Jack Palmer, Peter Watling and Rob Cavener, with the latter's pass playing through Dean Critchlow who finished well past Craig Turns.
Jamie Harwood and Sonny Andrews hit the post in quick succession as Town looked to be hitting full stride before Johnson's side struck on the counter.
Tom Davies played the ball quickly from the back up to Watling and the striker held off defenders before curling a speculative left-footed effort in off the post.
Gavin Cogdon had two golden opportunities to score soon after, seeing one blocked by Andy Jennison and sending the other into the side netting after rounding the TN goalkeeper.
Jennison was on hand to deny Andrews before Critchlow fizzed an effort wide as TN held a slender lead at the break.
"We knew there would be spells in the game where they would have a few chances," Johnson said.
"We had to defend well and bank up to keep them out and the defenders and goalkeeper have done really well.
"On the counter we knew we could break them down and that's how we got our goals."
Spennymoor had the first chances of the second period with Danny Moore and Cogdon both missing opportunities to grab a Town equaliser before Jennison reacted superbly again to deny a Cogdon blast.
TN will feel they should have done better for Spennymoor's equaliser with Andrews' corner going directly in untouched with Cogdon again denied by Jennison from point blank range five minutes later.
Guilty of wasting Spennymoor's best chances, the effervescent Cogdon blazed over with the last action of normal time as TN were taken into their second extra-time game in five days.
"They've hit posts, had shots blocked and Andy's kept them out with some top saves," said Johnson.
"Goals win you games but people forget you have to defend well to keep them out.
"In fairness we should have beaten them in normal time if we'd not conceded direct from a corner."
Into extra time and Watling threatened with a similar opportunity to his first goal but this time Turns reacted well to tip over before Spennymoor launched a further barrage on the TN goal.
Cogdon picked up the ball on halfway and carried it through the TN defence only for Gavin Donoghue to clear off the line before Jennison saved from Keith Graydon.
Watling popped up just minutes later with a moment of genius as he picked up a pass from Mark Fenwick and from a seemingly-impossible angle clipped a finish over Turns into the top corner.
But it was a corner again that was TN's undoing into extra time's second period as an in-swinger from Andrews evaded everyone before hitting Davies on the line and going in.
In a remarkable season of twists and turns it was almost to be expected that the tie between the Northern League's two champions would be decided from 12 yards.
Donoghue and Lee Scott netted the first two for TN with Andrews and Adam Johnston netting for Spennymoor. Watling dispatched his spot kick before Graydon blazed over and with Jack Palmer netting TN's fourth Jennison's save from Moore sent the hosts into their third cup final of the season.
"It's obviously a massive achievement to get to our third cup final of the season," Johnson said.
"How many non-league sides win their league and reach every cup final available to them?
"I doubt any other team could do what we've done and it's a credit to the players.
"We've put in so many extra minutes this season we must have 20 or 30 games on some clubs."
Back to News