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Forster fires late leveller before Town triumph on penalties




Uppingham Town ended their 20-year wait to bring county glory back to the Rutland club after lifting the Leicestershire Intermediate Cup following a dramatic final on Tuesday night.

Town held their nerve to triumph in a penalty shoot-out after snatching a last-gasp equaliser against County Hall.

Uppingham Town celebrate their Leicestershire Intermediate Cup triumph. Photo: Melanie O'Berg (7596081)
Uppingham Town celebrate their Leicestershire Intermediate Cup triumph. Photo: Melanie O'Berg (7596081)

The Leicestershire Senior League Division One side had taken an 82nd minute lead as Town failed to find a finishing touch to a dominant display.

However, Rob Forster fired home a stunning 88th minute equaliser to send the tie into penalties where Town triumphed 4-2 on spot kicks.

It capped a memorable couple days for Uppingham who secured second spot in Division One of the Peterborough League at the weekend and an expected promotion back to the top flight.

They are also aiming for a trophy double having reached the final of the Peterborough Challenge Cup - where they face Eye United in May - in manager Paul O'Berg's maiden season at the helm.

O'Berg said: "I thought the lads deserved to win it against tough opposition who were a good footballing side.

"We knew we had to play our game rather than trying to match theirs. We're good at what we do and we play to our strengths and that's why we've got where we have this season.

"We let ourselves down a little bit in terms of not taking the chances we had, but the players have listened all season and have taken on board everything I've asked them to do, hence the progression and the belief they have in themselves.

"Once we equalised, I wanted penalties because I knew my boys would be alright and I fancied ourselves. I was confident when it got to penalties.

"The lads' attitudes have been brilliant this season and the boys have responded terrifically. The league was always our priority, but the cups are the icing on the cake."

Uppingham Town celebrate their Leicestershire Intermediate Cup triumph. Photo: Melanie O'Berg (7596083)
Uppingham Town celebrate their Leicestershire Intermediate Cup triumph. Photo: Melanie O'Berg (7596083)

Town flew out of the traps in the final at Holmes Park with the confidence of a side that hadn't tasted defeat since a 3-2 league loss against Eye at the beginning of September.

Forster saw an early effort kept out by County Hall custodian Dan Hanley while Rob Montgomery was inches away from opening the scoring with another good chance.

Harry Grigg flashed a header narrowly wide for County Hall before Forster produced the strike of the first half with a stunning first-time effort that rattled the crossbar.

Forster then had a well-struck free-kick palmed away by Hanley before Callum O'Berg sent a well-timed header wide of the County Hall goal.

Hanley was forced to make a top-drawer save to deny Jordan Spencer from close range after a slick Uppingham attack as they continued to create the better chances in the build-up to half-time without finding the vital breakthrough.

Uppingham Town celebrate their Leicestershire Intermediate Cup triumph. Photo: Melanie O'Berg (7596085)
Uppingham Town celebrate their Leicestershire Intermediate Cup triumph. Photo: Melanie O'Berg (7596085)

Martin Turiccki and O'Berg both went close at the start of the second period but, as the half wore on, County Hall became more of an attacking force and threatened on several occasions.

Jack McHugh blazed a good chance over for the Leicester side before Sam Collins headed another effort narrowly wide.

Spencer dragged his shot wide of the far post after a marauding surge forward for Town while, at the other end, Billy Henshaw was forced to make a crucial goalline clearance to deny County Hall a opener.

However, they did break the deadlock with eight minutes remaining as Uppingham were punished for a catalogue of errors.

A poorly-struck free-kick was easily cleared by County Hall who then broke at pace with McHugh taking full advantage of a defensive mix-up to race clear and round Tom Hubbard to open the scoring.

Having been the dominant side for large parts of the contest, the goal could have rocked Town but they responded in style with a rousing finale.

Will Thomas was introduced as a late substitute to add another attacking option and it was his carefully-crafted cross to the back post with just two minutes remaining that Forster met with an unstoppable volley that arrowed into the top of the County Hall net to send the tie into penalties.

Uppingham Town celebrate their Leicestershire Intermediate Cup triumph. Photo: Melanie O'Berg (7596087)
Uppingham Town celebrate their Leicestershire Intermediate Cup triumph. Photo: Melanie O'Berg (7596087)

Town were up first, however, the usually-reliable Spencer skewed his effort wide but, fortunately for Uppingham, Tom Dowsing did likewise with County Hall's opener.

Uppingham skipper James Howe then gave his side the initiative they never relinquished with a successful second penalty which was matched by McHugh's conversion.

Thomas put Town 2-1 ahead with Tom Darlison again levelling before Jack Salt put Uppingham back in front.

Goalkeeper Hubbard then put Town in control by saving County Hall's fourth penalty from Gene Carlton.

That left Sam Eldridge to keep his cool and slot home the winning penalty which sparked mass celebrations among the Town players and their strong contingent of travelling support.

Uppingham: Hubbard, Spencer, Henshaw, Dumford, Turiccki, Porter, Howe, O'Berg, Montgomery, Forster, Bains. Subs: Thomas, Eldridge, Cleaver, Salt, Binley.


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