Football: Dresden United hold their nerve in tense penalty shoot-out
DRESDEN United manager Darren Allen hailed his young guns after they fired his side into the final of the Staffs FA -Sunday Challenge Cup.
A penalty shoot-out victory over New Finney Gardens set up a showdown with Uttoxeter Town A next month.
And with four other trophies in their sights, Allen says the future is looking bright for the team he set up just four years ago.
"At the moment we are still unbeaten this season, which is not bad when you consider we are coming into March," he said.
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"But the message I keep drumming into the players is, 'We've won nothing yet'."
Allen, aged 37, set the team up after regular knockabouts on the Astroturf at Florence Club.
"It all started with just a bunch of mates having a game among themselves, but the numbers grew and there were some useful lads turning up so I decided to form a Sunday league team."
Under the name of the Angel Inn, based in Fenton, they joined the City Traders League Division Two, which they won. In their second year were promoted to the Premier Division.
That's when the name changed to Dresden United, and after finishing third last season Allen's team are in a good position to win it this time.
They have only played seven league games, but have won them all, scoring 48 times and conceding just eight.
The reason they have played so few games is because of their cup commitments.
As well as reaching the Sunday Cup final, they are in the semi-finals of the Premier Division Cup, the Project Management Cup and the quarter-final of the Sentinel Sunday Cup.
"It's a lot to go for, but I have a great set of lads who are enjoying their football," added Allen.
"The average age of the squad is 22, so this team can be together for a long time."
Dresden took a 2-0 lead against New Finney thanks to goals from Josh Myatt and Ben Lees.
"I thought we were on our way," admitted Allen.
But New Finney Gardens pulled one back before the interval through John Barrass and then the same player scored an equaliser four minutes from the end of normal time.
"It was a good, close game. We shaded the first half, but they had the better of the second," said Allen.
With neither side able to find a winner in extra-time, the game went to penalties where Phil Hughes, Josh Thorpe, Richard Shankland, and Dominic Thorley kept their cool to see Dresden home.
In league action, Premier Division leaders Locomotive drew 2-2 at Oak Tree.
Chris Morgan and Jordan White had handed Locomotive a 2-1 interval lead. Edwin Anderson and Mark Harris replied for Oak Tree.
That allowed second-placed Black Lion to close the gap to four points at the top after a 2-1 success at Congress with goals from Scott Griffiths and Matty Barlow.
Unbeaten Division One Leaders Holditch are through to the final of the Division One Cup after a 5-4 home win over Bentilee.
Simon Fowler (2), Simon Freeman (3) and Alex Brown were their scorers.
In the league, The Barrel remain second after a 6-1 win at Stella Bucharest, while third-placed Wheatsheaf overwhelmed Gardeners Retreat 6-1.