The Penguins were 2-0 down at Bottesford Town, after conceding the 49th and 50th goals of a season in which they had lost all eight matches. But substitute Shane Kelsey scored in the 73rd and 76th minutes before netting a long-range injury-time winner. Rec are still in the one relegation place, with three points from seven games, but only on goal difference while another win could take them as high as 16th.
Manager Pete Goodlad said: “The scenes at the end were incredible. “Everyone was on the pitch and celebrating. It has given us all a massive lift and we know we can win games in this league now.
"We haven’t been playing as badly as the scores suggest, it’s just that we have been playing six or seven teenagers and their heads go down if things don’t go their way. It’s a tough league and you get punished for mistakes.
"We have missed some key players through injury but they are coming back now. We look a decent team again. Some of our players have turned down four or five offers to leave and players at other clubs, who aren’t getting a chance, want to join us because we are playing young players. We have enough to stay up, but it will still probably be the toughest season the club has ever head.
"There is only one relegation place this season which works in our favour and gives us a lot of hope. The good mood and Athersley spirit has returned to the club after last season when we lost our way a bit and started paying players which nearly bankrupted us. All the players, fans and staff are committed to what we are doing and we’re all enjoying it again.”
Kelsey, the former Shaw Lane and Worsbrough player from Barnsley who retired in 2016 before returning this season, came on and scored a 17-minute hat-trick. After volleying in his first, he rounded the goalkeeper to equalise then won it with a stupendous 35-yard strike.
The 35-year-old netted more goals in that game than Athersley had scored all season. Kelsey, who is a coach under Goodlad this season as well as coaching the club’s under eights, was not due to play but was asked to go on the bench after striker Kai Hancock had to pull out of the game through injury.
Goodlad said: “Shane is a class act. He’s played at a very high level. The chances fell to the right person on the day. “Shane applied for the manager’s job in the summer but ended up being our coach and he’s someone we see being with the club for the long-term. He still has a lot to offer on the pitch as well, with his quality and the way he brings the young lads on.”