Ripon City’s young side have ‘grown up together’ in their run to the Whitworth Cup final, according to assistant manager Dan Metcalfe.
City sealed a thrilling injury-time win in Saturday’s semi-final against Kirk Deighton Rangers to progress to the final against Beckwithshaw Saints.
Kirk Deighton went into the lead after 20 minutes, before Kyle Baldwin equalised with a sensational dipping volley from 35 yards less than ten minutes before the interval.
In the third minute of added time with penalties looming, Ripon skipper Ryan Barker rose highest to head his side into the final.
Metcalfe, forced to deputise in goal himself, lauded the team’s feat, saying, “It’s a real achievement for us and great for the club and the players.
“It was a good game and one we deserved to win.
“I had to step in goal as our regular keeper has just had a little child,” he added. “We weren’t at the races in the first half but I wasn’t troubled and the only save I had to make came with one of the last kicks of the game.
“We’re obviously slogging hard down at the bottom of the league but we’re starting to see the benefits of the efforts we’ve put in all season”.
Despite Ripon’s rip-roaring run to the final, they are in a precarious position in West Yorkshire Division One.
Micky Baldwin’s side sit second bottom of the table, two points off the foot of the table but having played a game more than basement boys Thornhill, who they beat 5-1 a fortnight ago.
Metcalfe explains City’s Jekyll and Hyde performances in the league and cup down to their squad’s lack of experience.
“We think we’ve been unlucky in a few games, conceding late goals.
“We’ve got a young, inexperienced squad and they’ve developed, played and grown up together this seasonn,” Metcalfe continued.
“A lot of times after we’ve beaten teams they’ve told us afterwards ‘you’ve got a really good team there’.
“That’s happened to us half a dozen times this season.
“The young lads we’ve got have put in hard work from the start of the season and only now it’s paying off for us.”
Metcalfe is relishing the run-in, starting with a tough game against Headingley on Saturday.
“We’ve got a tough game against Headingley, confidence is high so another win on Saturday can spur us on.”
Meanwhile, Boroughbridge edged to a 2-1 victory over Hartshead on Saturday in a feisty encounter at Aldborough Road.
The visitors took a sixth minute lead before Mike Mullenger hit back just over ten minutes later to restore parity.
Daz Ekin’s men then snatched all three points as Ben Jones turned the ball home at the near post in the 74th minute.
The win keeps Ekin’s side fourth in the West Yorkshire League Division One table.
‘Bridge Reserves, meanwhile, fell to a narrow 3-2 defeat at Alliance Division One high fliers Robin Hood Athletic Reserves.
to drop a place to eleventh in the table. Jack Campbell was on target with a brace for Richard Donohoe’s side.
‘Bridge ‘A’, finally, missed two penalties but despite this still managed to hit Beckwithshaw Saints Reserves for six in an emphatic victory which moves Neil Greer’s side to within a point of the Harrogate & District League Division One summit.
Phil Wix led the scoring with a first half brace, with Richard Lamb, Sean Corbett, Tom Ekin and an own goal completing the scoresheet.