TWO goals from JJ Bailey gave Alport a sensational 2-1 win at West Midlands Division One side AFC Ludlow in the Shropshire Senior Cup.
Bailey headed Alport into a first half lead and it looked like it would be enough to bring about a giant-killing.
But the hosts dug in deep and managed to force extra-time with a late and undeserved equaliser before Bailey’s downward header sent Alport through.
Manager Rich O’Keeffe had sent his side out with the instructions to play to their maximum capabilities if they were to provide a cup shock.
And taking the game to their more illustrious opponents, Whitchurch ran out worthy winners as they limited the hosts to very few opportunities throughout.
It would have been easy to be overawed against one of the favourites, but Alport came out on the front foot and scored after 15 minutes when Liam Jones whipped over a cross, for Bailey to bullet his header into the top corner.
O’Keeffe felt Ludlow perhaps didn’t pay his side enough respect, thinking they might have been in for an easy ride.
But Alport stuck to their game plan and deservedly went in a goal up, with Ludlow’s manager sent off for arguing a bit too vociferously for the referee’s liking.
The work rate expended by Whitchurch, meant that an equaliser would put Ludlow back in the box seat with Alport tiring as the game wore on.
Even O’Keeffe would later admit that he felt an additional 30 minutes would end in defeat.
And it looked like his fears would be realised when Ludlow struck from close range with five minutes left.
Extra-time saw Alport dig-in again but surprisingly, Ludlow didn’t press home their advantage despite playing at a level two divisions higher than the Yockings Park side.
And when Bailey headed in his second from Stef Holiday’s free-kick, Alport shut up shop and killed the game with every time-wasting tactic they could muster.
But who could blame them? It was a terrific result to leave their manager describing the performance as “easily the best of the season.”
O’Keeffe was justifiably proud of his side and paid tribute to every one of them: “I know it’s a bit clichéd but before the game I said it was a long way to come to go home with nothing.
“I thought we’d have to be right at the top of our game to get anything and we were. Every player gave everything they had. They all put a shift in, all worked hard, all did their jobs and all won their personal battles.
“This is a big competition with the final at the Greenhous Meadow. To scalp of one of the favourites on their own pitch should give my lads every confidence to push on and kick start our league season.”
Alport are at home to Wellington Ams in the League Cup on Saturday (3pm).