Chatteris Town boss Unwin still reeling after penalty heartbreak robs Lilies of cup glory

CHATTERIS Town boss Jimmy Unwin is still reeling from the most devastating result of his managerial career after a heartbreaking penalty shootout robbed the Lilies of a cup-final appearance.

Unwin’s troops were seconds away from the final of the Cliff Bullen Challenge Cup when ten-man Hardwick netted a controversial equaliser to level the game at 3-3 and force extra time.

Chatteris had twice gone behind at West Street on Saturday but Richie Allen and Tom Moden struck equalisers before a bizarre own goal left them with one foot in the final. But it was not to be for the Lilies and, after an extra-time stalemate, teenager Aidan Hollis was the unlucky player to miss his penalty and consign his side to a dramatic defeat.

Unwin said: “It’s the hardest result I have ever had to take as a manager. I can’t put into words how I feel. We had it sewn up - we had it won.

“It really is a bitter pill to swallow. The lads were absolutely devastated in the changing room. They were gutted with themselves for not taking advantage of having the extra man.

“We were the better team. Sometimes the better team doesn’t win and that’s what happened. It’s a total injustice in my opinion.”

Unwin could barely watch as his side’s future was decided from the penalty spot. Moden, Aaron Bailey, Stuart Porter, Steven Reid and substitute James Harness all held their nerve to take the shootout to sudden death.

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But highly-rated 16-year-old Hollis - who had put in a commanding second-half performance - skewed his spot-kick wide to leave Chatteris dejected.

“I didn’t watch any of our penalties,” said Unwin. “It’s a superstition from when I was playing. Credit to Aidan for being brave enough to take one.

“I’ve spoken to him since and he’s very level-headed. He’s a 16-year-old lad going on 25 and he’s going to be a fantastic player. He will be starting tomorrow because he’s earned that right.

“We are a young side and we are learning all the time. That sort of experience can make them better players - sometimes a bad result like that can give you a bit of a kickstart.”

Chatteris, who sit mid-table in the Kershaw Premier, return to action tomorrow against bottom-of-the-league Hundon.