Woe for Watkin as Town miss out on title with last kick

Craig Watkin's last-minute penalty miss cost his side the Coventry Alliance title.
Craig Watkin's last-minute penalty miss cost his side the Coventry Alliance title.
  • Coventry Alliance Premier Division
  • Folly Lane 2 Whitnash 2
  • AEI Rugby crowned champions

Whitnash Town suffered a cruel end to their Coventry Alliance campaign with a final-minute penalty miss from Craig Watkin costing them the title.

Needing a win to pip both opponents Folly Lane and leaders AEI Rugby to the championship, Whitnash looked to have one hand on the silverware when Josh Cole was brought down in the box.

However, Watkin, who boasted a 100 per cent record from the spot going into the final game of the season, saw his penalty saved and it was the onlooking Rugby players who were celebrating when the referee blew the final whistle.

The point left Town in third place but manager Barry Shearsby said no blame should be attributed to Watkin.

“I’m devastated for the lads,” said Shearsby, who took over from Marc Friend at the start of the season.

“They’ve worked hard all season and for it to come down to one kick...

“But we win as a a team and we lose as a team.

“The game should have been won long before that.”

In front of a crowd of more than 200, Town had to weather an early storm before going 1-0 up, Paul Wilkinson scoring at the second attempt despite appearing five yards offside.

The visitors got sloppy in the run up to half-time and Folly Lane equalised with a neat finish after a fine through ball had sliced through their back line.

The goalscorer quickly went from hero to villain, however, collecting the ball from the net and throwing it into the face of a Whitnash supporter to earn himself a red card.

Despite their man advantage, Whitnash made a disappointing start to their second period and found themselves behind when Folly Lane converted from the spot.

With the title within their grasp, Lane sat back and soaked up the Town pressure.

Poor finishing and good goalkeeping prevented Town getting back on level terms until the 82nd minute when Lee Scott pounced to make it 2-2.

The equaliser set up a grandstand finish, with Lewis Currell missing one of a number of gilt-edged chances as Town pressed for a winner.

“If a neutral didn’t enjoy those last ten minutes, there’s something wrong with them,” said Shearsby.

The action was still ongoing following the award of Town’s penalty, with Folly Lane reduced to nine following a headbutt.

But it was to be the Rugby side who were crowned champions at the final whistle and Shearsby said some soul-searching will be done by himself and assistant Tony Clarke.

“Me and Clarkey have got unfinished business,” he said.

“We just keep stumbling and we’ll have to look at if our success in the cups catches up with us.

“When it’s in your hands, it‘s devastating.

“But I still believe we are the best team in the league.

“We’’ll have a nice six or seven-week break and we’ll come again.”