Former Mansfield Town defender Liam Marsden was delighted to help Matlock Town into the Derbyshire FA Senior Cup final after a thrilling penalty shoot-out win over National League North Alfreton Town last night.
Marsden, 22, tucked away his first senior penalty with the shoot-out locked at 3-3 and one each missed.
“I have probably been involved in one other shoot-out in my life when I was Mansfield Town’s youth team,” he said.
I also took a few penalties in my younger days but nothing recently, so it was quite new to me.
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“It was the last penalty, so I needed to score to keep us in it. But the pressure wasn’t too bad as it wasn’t like it was the FA Cup or anything like that.
“I went to my left and the keeper went the wrong way – so happy days really.”
Cecil Nyoni kept a cool head to level proceedings again, then Fabian Spiess saved from Jake Green only for Terry Kennedy to blaze helplessly over with the tie at his mercy.
Adam Yates scored Matlock’s fifth shoot-out goal, and with the pressure mounting Paul Clayton fired straight at Phil Barnes and the contest was over.
Earlier, Alfreton had quickly gone 2-0 up over their Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division opponents.
But Marcus Dinanga claimed a fine hat-trick, the last from the penalty spot on 82 minutes before Craig Westcarr scored from the spot on 88 minutes to take the tie to penalties.
“It was a very exciting game – end to end,” said Marsden.
“It was a poor start by us and we didn’t really get going until the 20/25-minute mark.
“We scored a goal before half-time which helped us massively and we went back out there second half thinking we could definitely win it.
“I don’t know if he (the referee) thought he was evening out the penalties but I am not sure there was contact and it looked a soft penalty at the end.
“But we are through and we now face Gresley at the end of the season.”
Despite some wobbles last month, Matlock remain in the push for the play-offs.
Marsden said: “We started the season well but have dropped off a bit recently. But now we’ve had good wins on the bounce and we have a few games in hand.
“The games are coming thick and fast at the minute and hopefully we can keep getting a few points on the board, end the season well and finish it all off with a cup final and a trophy.”
This Saturday they travel to Rushall Olympic where a good win could see them leapfrog their opponents into ninth place.
“They started the season off a bit like us and, like us, dropped off a bit,” he said.
“We have games in hand on them and, though we know it will be tough at their ground, we don’t expect to go anywhere and lose. So we’ll go with a good attitude.”
Marsden is enjoying being a regular in the Gladiators side, saying: “I have played right back for the majority of the season so it is nice to get games under my belt and be playing.”
On his former club, Mansfield Town, he added: “I have kept an eye on how they’ve been doing.
“I still speak to some of the lads down there and I’m good friends with Jack Thomas, who has just up to Barrow on loan.
“Things didn’t start great but they are picking up and it’s good to see.”