FOOTBALL - Droitwich Spa in play-off final heartbreak after last-minute goal ends promotion dream - The Droitwich Standard

FOOTBALL - Droitwich Spa in play-off final heartbreak after last-minute goal ends promotion dream

Aaron Sutcliffe 6th May, 2023 Updated: 11th May, 2023   0

DROITWICH Spa suffered play-off final heartbreak after the Saltmen conceded a last-minute goal in a 2-1 defeat against Ashby Ivanhoe.

Spa made the perfect start when Charlie Tilley broke the deadlock early on only for Ashby to equalise through Danny Quinn’s well-taken finish.

However, with the game destined for penalties, Ashby clinched promotion at Spa’s expense with a scrappy winner from Joel Carta at the death.

Droitwich had captain James Lemon sent off in injury time as tempers boiled over with Spa unable to find a late equaliser at a packed NFU Sports Ground.

Despite the disappointment, Spa can look back on a remarkable first season at step six with great pride having pushed Ashby all the way in a closely contested Midland Football League Division One play-off final.

Droitwich made a fast start and hit the woodwork in the opening few minutes when Cory Rudd’s cross came back off the crossbar.

And Spa went close again soon after when Lemon collected the ball in the left channel and shot narrowly wide of the post from the left-hand side of the penalty area.

The Saltmen were rewarded for their strong start on nine minutes when Cory Rudd played in Tilley who coolly rolled the ball past the Ashby Ivanhoe goalkeeper.

And Spa almost doubled their lead soon after when Perry Moss headed Alex Dugmore’s cross inches over the crossbar.

Spa had another chance as the half wore on as Jack Davies’ well-struck shot from the edge of the penalty area flew over the bar.

The Saltmen somehow failed to score in an extraordinary passage of play as Lemon’s header was hooked clear before Collins miscued a header of his own moments later with the goal at his mercy.

Lemon appeared to be fouled as he retrieved the loose ball in the box before Davies’s low drive was cleared off the line.

However, Ashby equalised against the run of the play on 33 minutes when Quinn slid Josh Thomas’s cross from the left past Dom Rogerson.

And the home side almost completed the turnaround just before half time when Quinn was played in behind the Spa defence and was denied by the base of the post.

Ashby went close again moments later when Rogerson superbly tipped Sam Grouse’s shot around the post for a corner.

Spa regrouped at the start of the second period as Lemon headed Jack Brighton’s corner over the bar at the near post.

However, Ashby spurned a glorious chance to take the lead when the ball was worked out to Thomas who shot inches wide from the left-hand side of the penalty area.

Spa went close at the other end when Scott Braiden-Smith’s header went the wrong side of the post from close range.

The home side were then denied by a world-class save by Rogerson who made himself big to somehow divert Grouse’s close range header to safety.

And Rogerson then made a crucial intervention as he saved the ball at the feet of an Ashby attacker who had attempted to round the Spa keeper.

The Droitwich keeper made another fine save late on as he acrobatically tipped a blistering shot over the crossbar.

However, Ashby broke Droitwich hearts in the final minute of regulation time when Rogerson came for and missed the ball at a corner which hit Carta at the back post and trickled agonisingly over the line.

Droitwich had Lemon sent off in injury time following an altercation with an Ashby player near the corner flag before the final whistle brought a cruel end to Spa’s season.

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