By Aidan Hopson
Berry Brow keeper Kyrone Cooper was the hero in a dramatic penalty shoot-out after his side almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory to lift the Gee Cup.
Berry Brow A blew a 3-0 half-time lead as Slaithwaite United Reserves fought back to level at 3-3, forcing the game to penalties.
Cooper saved two spotkicks and scored one himself to spark celebrations at Golcar United’s Skye Direct Stadium.
On a bone hard pitch, Berry Brow put Slawit under pressure from the start with several quick raids down both flanks which Slawit were finding it difficult to deal with.
It was no surprise when from one of these attacks that Berry Brow took the lead. Luke McLoughlin scored from a quick break with a well-placed shot past the Slawit keeper. McLoughlin was having a lot of the ball down the right and doubled Berry Brow’s lead with 20 minutes played.
Slawit were looking shell-shocked and finding it hard to get into the game. Raymond Chingombe made it 3-0 to Berry Brow after 30 minutes leaving Slawit with a mountain to climb.
But climb it they did and the transformation was remarkable in the second half. In the 48th minute a sweeping move from defence saw the ball fall for Bradley Howe in the Berry Brow penalty area and he fired the ball home.
A few minutes later and it was 3-2. Following a period of sustained pressure, the ball was scrambled home after a deflection off a Berry Brow defender.
Things were hotting up and Berry Brow were struggling to keep Slawit out and on 63 minutes Ben Boulton sent the Slawit supporters wild making 3-3 after a corner kick.
There were several heavy challenges from both sides and the referee and his assistants were struggling to keep the peace.
After a couple of quite serious fouls, Joey Singh from Berry Brow received a red card much to the Berry Brow management team’s amazement. Following a healthy exchange of opinions, Berry Brow manager Jonny Howes also received a red card and was sent from the stadium.
End-to-end stuff followed and in the closing moments Berry Brow thought they had won it with a header from a free-kick that sent Berry Brow wild. But amid all the celebrations the assistant had raised his flag for an infringement and the goal was disallowed.
The dreaded penalty shoot out followed and the hero was soon to be revealed as Cooper took a bow.
The Ballcraft Trophy award for the man of the match was presented to James North from Slawit and Ben Cornelly, the Berry Brow captain, received the Gee Cup from Peter Gledhill, chairman of Golcar United.