Everybody loves an underdog story. On a night when Leeds had finally entered the Spring season, the West Riding County Cup Final was set at Valley parade between Eccleshill United and Harrogate Town.
In a match known as the FA Cup Final for northern non-league clubs, the atmosphere was at the highest intensity for players as the match was held at the home of Bradford City A.F.C. With over 600 fans in attendance, the occasion was exciting for both teams, their biggest match of the season. Harrogate needed a win to salvage their disappointing season, while Eccleshill United had not won a trophy in eighteen years.
Representing Richmond in the match were Jackson Patillo, Tyson Newell, Drake Trease, Doug Stevenson, Reid Harbach, and Adam McCabe. It was the first opportunity for a major cup final at the RIASA program.
The first half of the match was a tireless duel between the two teams. As Harrogate Town plays four divisions higher than Eccleshill United, and therefore never meet in the regular season, neither team knew their opponents’ strengths. However Eccleshill matched their Conference North opponents like for like. Harrogate Town fans were pleasantly surprised at the fluidity, bravery, and determination of Eccleshill United to pass the ball, as both teams created chances to score in the first half. As the first half came to a close, the score remained 0-0.
The second half resumed in similar fashion, with both teams equaling each other in strength and skill. As the time wound down, the match began to open up and both teams had clear opportunities to take the lead.
Harrogate Town had made all three of its substitutions, and one of the strikers jumped to win a header off of a goal kick. When the striker (Chris Hall) landed, he tore his ACL and was stretchered off the field. For the last 15 minutes of the match Harrogate Town had to play with one fewer man.
Waves of attacks came at Harrogate Town as Eccleshill United attempted to win the game before the match headed into overtime. As it seemed there would be 30 minutes of overtime, again fate was in the hand of Eccleshill United. A shot from an Eccleshill United striker stuck the outstretched hand of a Harrogate Town defender in the penalty box. This action resulted in a penalty kick for Eccleshill United in the final moments of the match.
Leading goal scorer, Marcus Edwards stepped up and coolly deceived the keeper to dive the wrong way, slotting the ball into the back of the net. Eccleshill United had the lead and was merely seconds away from cup glory.
As both teams lined up for the ensuing kickoff the referee blew the whistle for full time. The stars had aligned for Eccleshill United and RIASA. What a wonderful night for the underdogs and a fantastic way to cap off an incredible season!