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Corinthian miss out on FA Vase final after losing penalty shoot-out to Hebburn Town

Proud Corinthian boss Michael Golding wished his team had been played off the park rather than miss out on Wembley in a penalty shoot-out.

Corinthian lost 4-3 on spot-kicks to Hebburn Town at Gay Dawn Farm on Saturday following a 2-2 draw in extra-time.

Corinthian boss Michael Golding, left, consoles Louie Clarke after his penalty shoot-out miss. Picture: Alan Coomes
Corinthian boss Michael Golding, left, consoles Louie Clarke after his penalty shoot-out miss. Picture: Alan Coomes

It means Hebburn are through to the FA Vase final at Wembley on September 27 against fellow Northern League side Consett – and Corinthian are left to lick their wounds.

“I’d rather lose 7-0 than lose on penalties,” admitted Golding. “I’d rather they came here and bashed us around the park than that.

“It’s hard for the boys. The boys who have missed feel the disappointment for the whole squad but they’ve stepped up, we put no pressure on them, they wanted to take the penalty.

“We win and lose as a team and we’ve done that for the last couple of years. It will be 24 hours of soul searching and then we’ve got to go again.”

Golding, who admitted he shed “a tear or two” even though he “tried not to in front of the boys”, could not have been more proud of the effort his players put into the biggest game in the clubs history.

“I’m incredibly proud, so, so proud of the boys,” he added. “We asked them to give us and the people at the ground a performance and we’ve taken the favourites for the competition to the very last kick of the game. It’s heart-breaking to lose on penalties.

“They went down to 10 men but I didn’t want him to send off their player. It’s incredibly frustrating but I’m so proud of the club and everything we stand for. Listen, we didn’t get the result that we wanted but we couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve done.

“We’ve got to go again. We should have won the league two years ago but we didn’t, then we lost the cup final, so it’s not the first time for this group of players. The character in that squad and the mentality they’ve got is unbelievable.

“We asked everyone to give us a performance. Okay, not everyone played brilliantly but everyone left everything out on that pitch and I don’t think we could have asked for anymore from our set of boys.

“The first half was cagey, I didn’t expect anything less, as you want to be in the game at half-time. We started well which was really pleasing and then it followed a pattern I wasn’t too surprised about.”

Corinthian's Jamie Billings is thwarted by the Hebburn defence. Picture: Alan Coomes
Corinthian's Jamie Billings is thwarted by the Hebburn defence. Picture: Alan Coomes

Corinthian took the lead early in the second half but, with Hebburn reduced to 10 men, the visitors equalised with just one minute of normal time remaining.

Golding’s men were behind in extra-time but hit back to force the tie to penalties. The feeling of ‘what might have been’ is going to live with the manager for some time to come.

He said: ““It was a great start in the second half, I thought Andres should score and then I felt the keeper got a great touch on the ball but the referee gave the penalty and Oscar – the kid is unbelievable – took a very confident penalty. You just start to think maybe for whatever reason it was in the stars.

“But Hebburn are a good side and we expected them to create chances, they are favourites for a reason. The red card made us drop five yards deeper. They maybe felt it was a bit harsh and it gave them that little extra push. We should have been better against 10 men, we maybe weren’t good enough, but it wasn’t what we wanted at that stage.

“The boys were incredible. In the quarter-finals against Leighton Town we were 3-2 down and dead and buried but then we got the goal and from somewhere the boys kicked on. It looked like following the same suit, we were 2-1 down and then got a soft penalty, but still a penalty, and then we’re on top. We had a chance straight away and I just felt there was going to be something there for us. I could see it following that pattern. Their legs had started to go and if we’d had another five minutes, I fancied us to score again.”

Skipper Jack Bath and youngster Louie Clarke missed during the shoot-out but Golding was never going to point the finger.

“They’ve stepped up and they’ve made a decision,” added Golding. “Bathy hit one low, Louie hit one high, on another day the goalkeeper goes a different way to Bathy’s and it goes in. It’s just the luck of penalties and all those rubbish clichés.

“They’re disappointed individually. Bathy is the captain for a reason and Louie is a young kid who put his hand up straight away. We’ve got no issue with that, he has been brilliant for us and he will continue to be brilliant for us and score goals at this level.

“We did everything we feel we possibly could so, yes, we feel the disappointment with the boys. We’re at the face of it but we’re one big collective and we all hurt.

“The whole management team, myself, Sam Groombridge, Jake Housego, John Urquhart. Sam’s put in an incredible amount of hours for this fixture alone, we do it all the time, but for this game it was the biggest in the club’s history.

“Sam went up to watch them on Tuesday, we sacrificed him being here for the FA Cup tie. He went up to watch them, we spoke on the phone until three in the morning, we watched videos together online.

“I’m devastated. Everyone always says you get one chance to get to Wembley when you get this close and that’s potentially our chance. We’re still in the competition this year but we’ll get our heads together and go again.”

Devastation for Corinthian after their penalty shoot-out exit. Picture: Alan Coomes
Devastation for Corinthian after their penalty shoot-out exit. Picture: Alan Coomes

Hebburn officials were full of praise for the way Corinthian conducted themselves, as the Southern Counties East League proved magnificent hosts.

“We try and pride ourselves on that,” added Golding. “Whether people agree with it or not, that’s up to them to make their own opinions.

“We’ve been excellent hosts for the semi-final, Sue Billings and Charlotte Billings have done an incredible amount of work behind the scenes for this fixture to be up and running with 10 days’ notice. The work they’ve had to do to get 300 people in the ground is the stuff that people don’t recognise.

“Ultimately, we’re here to win football matches, but we are here to represent ourselves and the Corinthian spirit and I think we did that on Saturday.”

Golding will ring around his squad to raise morale in the coming hours ahead of their first Southern Counties East League fixture at home to Lordswood on Tuesday night.

So who picks the boss up after he was so close to walking his side out at Wembley?

“It falls on arguments with my wife to be honest,” he confessed. “The family and the wife will bear the brunt of the frustration and disappointment if I’m honest.”

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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