Whitchurch Alport enjoyed arguably one of the finest achievements in their 73 year history by bringing the Huddersfield Cup back to the town for the very first time.

An enthralling final at the New Bucks Head, home of AFC Telford United, on Friday night ended in dramatic fashion. Much fancied Market Drayton Town scored three goals in the 90 minutes but each time they were pegged back by a determined Alport side.

With the scores locked at three apiece it went to a penalty shootout with the Reds coming out on top 4–2, and their sizeable following celebrating wildly after Dave Parton saved Drayton's fourth spot kick to land the trophy.

The Yockings Park side have ended the season on a high with a highest ever placed finish in the league, increased average attendances, retaining the Ethelston Cup and by winning the Huddersfield Cup, it sets up a mouthwatering Shropshire Senior Cup final against Shrewsbury Town at the Montgomery Waters Meadow.

Luke Goddard, revealed his words before, during and after the final to his players. He said "Before the players went out I told them that if they were to concede and go behind not to let it affect their game.

"We got off to the worst imaginable start when they caught us cold and at the time we were down to 10 men with Dan Skelton off the pitch getting treatment on a first minute head knock.

"Their number seven is on loan from Stoke City and was really quick and early on he was a real threat. In the main we were able to starve him of the ball and try to get blocks in to stop the crosses. We started to play to our full potential and we put a couple of moves together that showed what this side is capable of. Sadly, the finishing let us down a little but we were still creating plenty of chances."

Pickers (Lee Pickerill) had his best game for us and we also saw top performances from Alex (Hughes) and AJ (Arron Johns) and I think the inclusion of Joe Cuff brought out the best in them. What Cuffy gives you is an appetite to close down defenders and goalkeepers but he also has belief in his abilities and that rubs off on players around him."

Alport's boss felt that his side defended pretty well despite conceding three goals: "I thought we contained them throughout most of the match but of course we shipped three goals and all could have been avoided. The first one Leon (Ashman) doesn't get tight enough to his man, the second was down to Parts in goal because there's no way he should be letting in shots like that. There was hardly any power in it and coming so soon after we equalised was a real hammer blow. Dave's had a terrific season for us

and he ended up being the hero during the penalty shootout and I was delighted for him. We had opportunities to clear the ball for their third goal but didn't and were punished. Ultimately, we have taken on an Evo-Stik team and beaten them, and we shouldn't forget beating Telford in the semi-final either. No one could argue that we deserved to win on the night."

Goddard named himself in the starting lineup with skipper Darren Campion sidelined through suspension and gave a really assured performance at the heart of the defence. And the gaffer felt that the atmosphere created by the huge travelling contingent from Whitchurch was one of the best he had experienced: "The noise our fans created was special," he said. "They've been behind us all season and this trophy is as much for them as it is for us. Every time a goal went in the cheers seemed to get louder and louder. Their players must have been looking toward that main stand seeing everyone in their red-and-white scarves making such a din, and wished they had a following like that. When you look at the two clubs from towns of similar sizes, there's no doubt where the momentum currently lies. They play at step four but there is no real buzz around the place whereas we've created quite a unique setup at our level and beyond."

The Reds boss admitted that he couldn't bear to watch the dramatic shootout: "We lined up five players who were good strikers of the ball but in Ash Rawlins they have a top class keeper. I'm told he had no chance with any of ours because I didn't watch any of them. The roar from our fans when Parts saved the decisive pen and the mass celebration that followed will stay with me forever. I said last week in my preview of the match that cup finals are usually dour affairs and yet this one had a bit of everything. People who attended as a neutral or the bigwigs from the Shropshire FA couldn't have failed to have been impressed with what they witnessed, and we are the third biggest side in Shropshire at the moment. We will relish the opportunity to take on Shrewsbury and if we beat them then we'd be the biggest side in the county!"

Alport's Achilles heel this season has been their failure to take points from sides at the foot of the table. Twenty-three points have been lost to teams in the bottom five and Goddard revealed that he had told his players that they were now at a level where they could go toe to toe with all the big boys: "We have shown what we are capable of not just here tonight but throughout much of our first season in the Premier Division. We have to be able to get ourselves motivated enough to scrap for points against sides of inferior quality. There's no point getting up for the big games if you can't demonstrate the same hunger for what would appear as easier matches. I think this current group are really together and very strong and they have come through a difficult period when we were going through transition. It's how you react to criticism that makes you stronger and you learn more sometimes from getting beaten than winning like we've been used to since I got here."

Goddard will now begin in earnest his search to add more quality to his squad but said he had made it clear that he wouldn't be on the phone to the current group. "After the match everyone was in a brilliant mood as you might imagine. I said they had given me 10 months but I wanted just two minutes more of their time. I told them to go away and

think about what they had experienced here with such a massive following which is unrivalled in this area and far beyond, particularly at the level in which we play. If players don't want to play for a club like Whitchurch Alport then there's something wrong but it's up to them if they want to come back and be part of such a fantastic set up. I think with the budget we have a top 10 finish would be overachieving for us next season but you're always hopeful of attracting one or two players that could make the difference and take us up to the next level."

*The Alport manager decided to give his winner's medal to young Zac Harris who has been an almost ever present around Yockings Park since Goddard was appointed in May 2016.