A “freak goal” helped Kirk Deighton Rangers wrap up a league and cup treble, courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Knaresborough Celtic.
The Harrogate & District Premier Division champions added to their league title and last month’s Senior Cup triumph when they lifted the League Cup on Saturday evening.
In a tight encounter against the side that they narrowly pipped to first place in the top flight, Rangers goalkeeper Jonty Smith’s long punt forward somehow found its way all the way into the back of the Celtic net to win the game in the 85th minute.
Reflecting on his side’s success, Kirk Deighton manager Daniel Marshall said: “I’m absolutely delighted, the lads have been fantastic all season.
“This was a tough, tough game, as it has been every time we’ve played Knaresborough, so great credit to them, they’ve run us close in a few competitions this year.
“I thought we were holding on a little bit in the second half, we looked quite tired and had a couple of lads carrying injuries.
“We’d played all our cards and we said on the touchline that we needed to win it in 90 minutes because if it had gone to extra-time, Knaresborough still had subs to make and looked the fresher of the two sides.
“But we showed great character, got a little bit of luck and ground it out somehow, so I’m over the moon.”
Rangers spurned a great chance to take the lead in Saturday’s clash when they won a first-half penalty following a foul on Joe Turley, but Luke Duberry’s spot-kick was well saved by Celtic’s stand-in gloveman Tom Sowerby.
Marshall’s men did not have to wait long to claim the ascendancy, however, and following an attack down the left flank, the ball was switched to the overlapping Turley who finished well with 41 minutes on the clock.
Parity was restored barely 60 seconds later when a neat passing move ended in Blaine Hobson playing a one-two with Edmore Murau and firing in from the edge of the area to send the sides into half-time level at 1-1.
The Celts began to enjoy more and more possession as the second period wore on, and with Kirk Deighton tiring, they started to take control of the game.
Rangers custodian Smith demonstrated some excellent handling to deal with all Knaresborough threw at him before winning the game for his side with just five minutes remaining.
His well-struck free-kick from inside his own half caught the wind on its way towards the Celtic goal and a Knaresborough defender could only help divert the ball into the top corner of his own net as he attempted to head clear.
Brian Davey’s team then piled numbers forwards as they attempted to get back on terms in the closing stages and a number of scrambles ensued inside the Kirk Deighton box.
At the other end, substitute James Woodward - who played for 25 minutes with a broken thumb, sustained moments after coming off the bench - burst clean through on goal but opted for power rather than placement and failed to add to his team’s tally.
The miss was not to prove costly, however, as Rangers held out for victory, much to the disappointment of Celts chief Brian Davey.
“I thought we were the better side on the day and played the better football,” he said.
“At 1-1, we were all set for extra-time, they were looking tired and we still had three subs to make, but then they scored.
“We’ve been beaten by a freak goal and were a bit unlucky really, you don’t expect to lose a cup final to a goalkeeper scoring like he has.
“He’s saved pretty much everything at one end and then scored at the other, but he’s the best keeper in this league, so there you go.
“I’m happy with how we played, but obviously the result is disappointing for us.
“There’s been nothing between us and Rangers all season, and this game was just the same, but we send our congratulations to Kirk Deighton.”
Central midfielder Liam Gray was named as Knaresborough’s man of the match, while Mikey Large was Rangers’ star man.