Whitehurst nets four and last-minute winner in Awsworth Villa thriller

A NINE-goal cup thriller for Awsworth Villa.
A NINE-goal cup thriller for Awsworth Villa.

Striker Ryan Whitehurst scored four, including a dramatic last-gasp winner in extra-time, as Awsworth Villa somehow survived a remarkable Notts Senior League, Senior Cup quarter-final.

Villa threw away a 2-0 lead against Senior Division rivals Unity and trailed 3-2 until forcing a dramatic equaliser in the 89th minute of normal time.

And then they fell behind again in the extra half-hour until Whitehurst pounced to snatch an incredible 5-4 win and send Villa into the semis for the first time in five years.

The tie was played at a frantic tempo throughout, with Unity using their pace and power at every opportunity to test the visiting defence, which was well marshalled by Liam Smith and Joe Staley.

But Awsworth grabbed the lead in the 20th minute when Smith won a crunching tackle and released midfielder Shaw Hutchinson, who sent a magnificent, disguised pass into the path of Whitehurst, who took one touch before firing a deadly finish into the bottom corner.

Moments later, he struck again when Hutchinson was bundled over in the box for a penalty that Whitehurst made no mistake with, even though the ‘keeper guessed the right way.

Unity launched their comeback five minutes before the break when a long ball forward was flicked on for a shot by Connor Croft that took a slight deflection off Smith and beat ‘keeper Matt Walsh. And the tie was turned on its head in the second half when Villa struggled to get their passing together. One substitute, Kione Gordon, knocked home an equaliser when Walsh failed to grab a corner and another, Anton Robinson, put the home side in front 15 minutes from the end.

Dead on their feet, Villa looked to be heading out of the cup. But sub Ben Watson had other ideas. In the dying seconds, the little striker, who chased everything after going on, hassled the Unity skipper into an error and ran through to show fantastic composure in rounding the ‘keeper and sending the visiting fans wild with delight.

Because of an injury to Staley, Awsworth effectively played extra-time with only ten men and they were on the ropes again in the 110th minute when Gordon tapped Unity into a 4-3 lead. But with Robbie Tonra holding things together superbly in the middle of the park, the visitors conjured up an amazing recovery.

Straight from the restart, the rampaging Whitehurst chased a ball over the top from Hutchinson to drive home. And then, with seconds left on the clock, the same combination delivered the winner.