Visitors Worksop came back from 2-0 down but were beaten 4-3 in the shoot-out at the club they beat to the only promotion place in the NCEL Premier Division last season. Frickley Athletic and Sheffield FC are also in the last four while Worsbrough Bridge and AFC Emley are due to play the last quarter-final next week. Richards said: “We have a good chance of going all the way. There are five or six lads in our team who have won it. We have got to three semi-finals and a final so we would love to go one better and win it. Frickley are the clear favourites and Sheffield play in a higher league. I would like a home tie then I would fancy us against anyone. I think the last NCEL side that won it was Athersley Rec and we would like to emulate them.”
Kieran Ryan opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a good finish from the right of the area after latching onto a long ball. Jordan Coduri should have doubled the lead after going through but fired wide. Nathan Keightley then netted midway through the first half after Church once again got behind the defence. Max Dearnley then made a fine point blank save before Worksop’s goalkeeper impressively clawed a shot out of the top right corner then saw a defender head a cross off the line. Worksop pulled one back after 40 minutes with a tap-in after a cross from the right.
Coduri again went close early in the second half then Danny Howes blazed over from close range. The visitors didn’t create a second half chance until the 89th minute when a shot from the right of the box was saved by Dearnley but bundled in. Dearnley then tipped over a spectacular long-range effort. In the shoot-out, James Young and Coduri scored while Dearnley saved Worksop’s second penalty then their third hit the crossbar but Billy Law missed for the hosts. Andy Ring made it 3-2, then, after Worksop scored again, Keightley sent Church through.
Richards said: “It was brilliant. The outcome reflected the game because we were the better team and created the better chances. We could have done better with both of their goals. We could have been 3-0 up at half-time. Sometimes you don’t get what you deserve in penalty shoot-outs but the players held their nerve.”
Church did not play in the NCEL Premier on Saturday but still remain top as second-placed Hemsworth lost at home to Staveley and stay behind Penistone on goal difference having played a game more. But third-placed Staveley have four games in hand on Richards’ men and are just two points behind. The clubs outside the three promotion places in fourth, fifth and sixth will also overtake Penistone if they win their games in hand.
Richards said: “We didn’t have our best Christmas period. You could look at it as we only lost one of four but I look at it like we only won one of four. There are teams below us who have to play a lot of midweek games which can throw up interesting results. We will just focus on each game. “I am pleased with where we are, I would rather be there than further down with games in hand because there is more pressure on those teams.”