South Western League 1, Mid Cheshire League 2: BARNTON - the MCL representatives - reached the final of the inaugural FA National Systems Cup on Saturday.
They were on an expenses-paid overnight stop to St Blazey and, refreshed both from their journey and recent poor results, took the lead after only six minutes. Steve Davies coolly slotted home a penalty for deliberate handball.
The advantage of the team knowing each other was evident in the first half, as Barnton got into their rhythm. A couple of half-chances were created while the SWL were restricted to long-range efforts.
Richie Mottram in goal had little to do for 45 minutes. Chris Gehgan's pace and skill were a constant threat to the SWL, who were made up of players from St Blazey and Bodmin clubs.
The SWL made a substitution on 63 minutes and within 60 seconds had contrived to score the equaliser. Inspired, they put pressure on Barnton and fullbacks Stu Fraser and Maciek Starchevski had to quell the wingers.
Jerry Coll and Lee Pennington then got a grip of the centre of the field and the MCL champions pushed forward again. A 40-yard cross from Aidan Brodigan to the far post fooled everyone. It clanged off an upright and Neil Critchley hammered home the rebound from four yards.
Barnton's players were ecstatic at the final whistle. They now face the Cambridgeshire Premier League at Cambridge United on May 8, with the winners representing England at a tournament in Slovenia in September.
Barnton face Poulton Vics in the final of the Cheshire Amateur Cup at Vauxhall Motors on Friday (7pm).
Knutsford 2 Middlewich Town 3
MIDDLEWICH went to the top of the MCL and the title is now in their hands.
If they win their remaining three games, they will succeed Barnton as champs.
Ryan Broadhead put them in front with a header but Knutsford equalised. Lee Murphy converted a penalty before the break and when Joey Roberts smashed home a superb volley from Broadhead's cross, the points looked secure.
But the home scored again and the last 10 minutes were tense. Anthony Palmer and Christie Forde scored for WITTON RES in their 2-1 midweek win at Nantwich Res. Albion lost 2-0 at home to Gamesley on Saturday.
In the Reserves Division, MIDDLEWICH put one hand on the championship trophy with a goalless draw at Crewe on Wednesday and needed another point on Saturday - when they crashed 9-2 at Crosfields.
Tonight: One - Middlewich v Rylands; Saturday: One - Daten v Middlewich; Two - Winsford Res v Nantwich Res; Reserves - Barnton v Garswood.
TWO goals by Mark Baiton earned Winnington Avenue Reserves a 2-2 draw at Malpas Reserves in the only game played in the Crewe & District League.
Saturday (2pm): Avenue v Avenue Res.