Holwell skipper Aaron Ridout decided he had to hide his nerves and lead by example when it came to last night’s penalty shoot-out win over Heather St Johns.
The defender is not a regular penalty-taker, but like his back four colleague Ian Bitmead, felt it was time for the senior players to stand up and calm the team.
“A few of the lads didn’t want to take one so the senior lads had to step up,” he said. “Fossie (Kieran Foster) wanted one and then it went a bit quiet so I had to speak up.
“I was very nervous. Some of the lads took the mickey for me not hitting the ball properly, but I hit it straight down the middle, safety first.”
Ridout is one of the few players in the ranks to have played in a cup final and was a goalscorer when Holwell beat Ibstock 2-0 in the Beacon Bitter Cup final a decade ago - the last time the team claimed major silverware.
He has also played in two semi-final defeats and was determined to avoid a repeat of those disappointments.
“I told the lads at the start to use the nerves in a positive way and they put everything into the game,” he added.
“It means a lot to us. Webbo (manager John Webster) told us not to let the season fizzle out. The league has been disappointing and it doesn’t look like we can qualify for the FA Cup now.
“It’s also nice for Graham (Lewin - chairman) and Heather (Taylor - secretary) because they haven’t had a lot to cheer about at Holwell for a lot of years.”
Ridout was in the thick of the action for much of the match as Heather laid siege to the Holwell goal after falling behind within a minute.
Shipping goals has been their Achilles heel in the league this season and has led to them all but dropping out of the race for a top 10 finish.
But not for the first time, a cup tie brought the backs-to-the-wall best out of Holwell.
Ridout said: “We defended really well for a change; it was a good day to do it.
“Having Rob (Woodcock) and Liam (Chapman) back and the normal back four in place helped us.
“They had a quick lad out on my side so we put Brad Smith out on the right and he did a really good job limiting his threat.
“Chris Hibbitt and Michael Stevenson did their usual job in the middle so we defended really well as a team.
“We were hanging on a bit at 2-2, but we went up the other end and Fossie smashed the bar and that reminded us we could still do it.
“After extra time we looked a lot fitter, and I think we deserved the win in the end.
“They piled a lot of pressure on, but didn’t create a lot.”