Rippingale's resilience is ended by last-gasp goal in Ancaster Cup semi-final
An injury-time strike from Ben Cowles sent Stamford Bels into the final of the Ancaster Cup with a 3-2 semi-final success over Rippingale on Wednesday night.
Cowles cracked home the crucial strike in the sixth minute of stoppage time to ensure Bels' place in Saturday's final for the second successive season.
They will face Cottesmore Amateurs in the final at Bourne Town's JJ Mac Stadium (kick-off 2pm) after a dominant display on the 3G at Borderville on Wednesday night eventually reaped its rewards against a resilient Rippingale side.
The villagers, who play a level below Bels in Division Two of the Peterborough League, produced a disciplined display to keep the Stamford side at bay for large parts of the contest while showing a ruthless streak in front of goal when they created their opportunities.
It was Rippingale who took the lead midway through the first half when Scott Lock's astute pass dissected the Bels defence for top scorer James Ferrow to produce a composed finish.
Bels continued to pepper the Rippingale goal throughout the rest of the half though with Dave Atkinson seeing a stinging shot well saved by visiting custodian Luke Stanton.
They eventually got back on level terms just ahead of the half-time break when player-manager Lewis Morley's fine through ball released Paul Cramp who was clipped from behind by Jordan Paylor just as he raced into the penalty area.
Atkinson stepped up to smash the resultant penalty into the bottom corner and ensure the two teams went in level at the break.
Bels again had the lions share of the game in the second half but Rippingale - who had beaten cup holders Stamford Lions in the last round - were determined to keep their hosts at bay.
Cramp fired a shot narrowly wide after a tidy Bels move had opened up the Rippingale rearguard before the Stamford striker again found space in the box.
Although his effort this time looked to be heading for the bottom corner, it appeared to hit the inside of the post and bracket near the wheel on the goal and rebounded out with referee James Cliffe waving away Bels' appeals for a goal.
They did, however, put themselves ahead with 15 minutes remaining as a weak goal kick was intercepted by substitute Rhys Gilson who raced clear to fire past replacement Rippingale goalkeeper Steven Bratcher after injury had earlier curtailed Stanton's involvement.
Rippingale refused to roll over though despite falling behind and had got themselves back on level terms within five minutes.
Lock picked up the ball out wide before bulldozing his way through into the box with a brilliant individual run which was matched by a fine finish to tie the contest again.
This sparked another late spell of Bels pressure and both Lewis Morley and Jordan Neil saw efforts well saved by Bratcher from close range.
Just as it looked like the tie would be heading to penalties, Joe Morley fizzed an effort goalwards and, although his shot was well saved, the ball rebounded out to fellow substitute Cowles on the edge of the box and he rifled home a last-gasp winner for Bels.