Wymeswold FC manager Shaun Wilkes described his side’s county cup triumph as the strangest game he’d ever been involved with.
The North Leicestershire League side fell behind in the final to North Kilworth after just 18 seconds and equalised for the second time in the last seconds of normal time.
They went on to win an extraordinary final 6-4 in extra time.
“I cannot put it into words,” Wilkes said. “It’s possibly the strangest game I’ve ever been involved in.
“I felt we made the correct subs and tactical tweaks all through the game, and even when my assistant said there was seconds left, I still had hope.
“It just goes to show you that football can change in a second.”
There could be more silverware heading Wymeswold’s way this season; they have a league cup semi-final lined up and are well-placed for a shot at the Premier Division title.
The win also helped to ease the pain of last season’s County Saturday Trophy final defeat.
“I couldn’t bare to face heartache like last season,” Wilkes added.
“Our support on the night was amazing. To see the players celebrating with friends and family at the end, these moments make the work we’ve all put in worthwhile.”
The omens didn’t look good when the Wymeswold keeper found himself picking the ball out of his net almost straight from their own kick-off when a defensive error allowed the Kilworth winger to score.
It got worse after 20 minutes when the Leicester District League title chasers doubled their lead when a cross from the right set up their striker.
But Wymeswold began to create chances, and leading scorer Linford Harris pulled one back 10 minutes before the break.
And after turning up the pressure, Wilkes’ men were deservedly level 10 minutes into the second half when captain Sam Allen scored from a Harris free-kick.
But Wymeswold supporters would be forgiven for thinking this was not going to be their night, again, when Kilworth made it 3-2 just a minute later with a spectacular effort from 35 yards.
Wymeswold brought on substitutes Joe Brett and Greg Fletcher with around 15 minutes to go, and Fletcher missed a great opportunity to equalise.
Yet after plenty more pressure, and with just seconds to spare, left-back Tom Hulett found space to curl a right-footed finish around the goalkeeper to force extra time.
Wilkes said: “To see Tom score the equalizer, it was amazing.
“He had been in the reserves for the first half of the season, but with players leaving the first team, he has come back in and played in an unnatural position on the pitch. In a way he’s made me eat humble pie.
“We weren’t great in the first half, but we still created chances. In the second half, we tightened up defensively, and our attacking threats of Harris, Hesketh and Kee gave us all hope of saving the tie.”
The pace and fitness of Jack Hesketh, Harris and Sam Kee was influential in extra time, with Kee teeing up Hesketh to put Wymeswold ahead for the first time.
Kee added a fifth to give Wymeswold some breathing space, and then in the second period, Harris popped up with a header for his 28th goal of the season, leaving Kilworth’s late fourth as just a consolation.
Wilkes added: “I felt they (North Kilworth) started their warm-up too early and it lasted a long time, and from that we knew they were going to tire. They also made two subs in the first half.
“Weirdly I don’t think scoring after 18 seconds helped them either; they wasted time when going 1-0 up.
“The goalkeeper took too long, players kicked the ball away at every opportunity, and I’d like to think that bought us an extra couple of minutes to save the game.”