Ludford Rovers won their first cup in 18 years after beating Louth Old Boys Reds 3-2 in a hard-fought final on Thursday evening.
A large crowd including a substantial proportion of the Ludford population made the trip to Park Avenue, in Louth, to cheer on their team.
Going into the match, Louth were sitting pretty at the top of east Lincs Combination Division Two with only North Somercotes rivalling them for top spot, while underdogs Ludford sat fourth.
Nerves were evident in a cagey, even opening with frequent mistakes from both sides in the first 20 minutes.
Neither side really threatened until the 23rd minute when Wesley Caron’s nice lobbed pass over the Louth defence fell straight in the path of Jordan Kay. The striker took one touch before producing a stunning chip over the keeper for 1-0.
Old Boys pushed hard for an equaliser from the restart, but Ludford defended desperately and were relieved when the half-time whistle blew.
After a fiery team talk from both mangers the second half also started evenly with Rovers knowing they would concede if they allowed the onslaught to continue.
The cup final nerves had subsided and both teams played some nice passing football, and it was Ludford who struck first with another well-taken goal.
Kay received another nice through ball, this time from midfielder Adam Smith, and still had work to do, but beat the defender before slotting it into the bottom corner.
Again Rovers regressed to defensive mode and Louth continued to press. They finally pulled one back with a stunning finish into the top corner from the Louth striker who had threatened throughout.
At 2-1 it was all to play for and again both teams took a more direct route straight.
Old Boys launched a series of attacks which Rovers absorbed before hitting Louth on the break against the run of play.
Defender Scott Waller’s long ball found Kay on the right wing to outpace his opposite number. His low, hard cross into the six-yard box found his strike partner Simon Clifford who calmly slotted home on 75 minutes.
Rovers once more took their foot off the pedal and Louth netted with a nicely-worked goal within five minutes of the restart.
With fatigue kicking in for both teams, changes were made as Old Boys pushed to take the final into extra time.
Louth pushed Rovers to the limit, forcing several last-ditch challenges and a well-judged low save from keeper Adam Baxter.
A towering header from the Old Boys centre-half then brushed the Ludford bar before the final whistle finally blew.
Rovers manager Edward Hunt said: “I’m so proud of what the boys have achieved today.
“I’d like to thank the fans for coming and showing their support, and also a big thanks to team sponsors Classic Furniture and Howden Kitchens.”
Rovers supporter Joe Herminston added: “That was one of the most nerve-racking 10 minutes I’ve ever experienced.”
Ludford now turn their attentions to the league, knowing that wins from their last three games will secure a third-place finish.