Man-of-the-moment Mike Pearson says Airbus UK Broughton are still chasing Europe on two fronts after landing a Welsh Cup semi-final berth – for only the second time – in dramatic fashion.
The commanding central defender struck the decisive spot-kick as the Wingmakers beat hosts Aberystwyth 4-2 on penalties on Saturday after a 1-1 draw.
For 27-year-old Pearson the celebrations banished bad memories of a decade ago – when his last effort from 12 yards was kept out by a future England goalkeeper.
He said: “I was playing in an Oldham youth game against Man City and Joe Hart saved mine in the shoot-out – it was a terrible penalty!
“Since then I’ve not had too much confidence to take another one, but it just felt right on Saturday. Originally there were four that wanted one, but there wasn’t exactly a surge of people to take the fifth! I just fancied it and stepped up, and the demons are gone now!
“Penalties is a great way to win, with all the drama. We’re delighted to be in the semi-final.”
The tie finished 0-0 after 90 minutes despite Airbus dominating, but the Seasiders sneaked in front three minutes into extra-time. Ryan Wignall equalised moments later, but was then sent off for a second bookable offence after kicking the ball at Antonio Corbisiero.
Airbus continued to press for a winner and were handed a chance to claim a deserved win five minutes from time when Stephen Wright handled in the box, only for Tom Field’s penalty to be superbly saved by Mike Lewis.
Pearson said: “We deserved to win, we were pretty comfortable even with 10 men and I still felt we’d score. Now we want to win every game until the end of the season so we can win the cup and finish second, that way we’ll definitely get into Europe.”
Airbus were, predictably, drawn against reigning holders TNS – for the fifth year running.
Director of football Andy Preece added: “You’re going to play them at some point as you’d expect them to get to the final, so it doesn’t really matter. Anybody who is in the final four will think they can win it and we’ve definitely got a chance.”
The tie will be played on Sunday, April 5 at Newtown's Latham Park (12.45pm kick-off). In the other semi Rhyl will play the Wingmakers’ next opponents Newtown.
Pearson says he has another wrong to put right in the Welsh Premier clash at Latham Park on Saturday (2.30pm) following the 1-0 defeat in mid-Wales earlier in the season.
He told the Chronicle: “It will be tough as they’re a good, well-organised side. I gave away the penalty last time and to be honest I was lucky to stay on the pitch so I’ll be looking to make amends. But we’re playing well and it’s coming together, so we’ll be going there to get another three points.”