HE dived to his left, dived to his right, saved with his legs then dived to his left again.
Each time, Stafford Rangers’ goalkeeping hero Jon Brain denied Stoke City U21s as the Marston Road men progressed in the Staffordshire Senior Cup on Tuesday night, writes Dave McLean.
In a keenly contested tie, both teams had enough chances to wrap up the proceedings in normal time, let alone extra time.
But in the end it came down to a dramatic penalty shoot-out and Brain stole the show, saving City’s first four, while the Boro also missed three of their opening four.
It was left to Jack Langston and finally Michael Carr to clinch victory for the Andy Mutch, who was able to celebrate his appointment as Rangers new manager until the end of the season wtih a win.
The opening stages of normal time saw Langston, recalled to the starting line-up, twice have efforts blocked, while James Alabi had early opportunities for City.
After Alex Steadman went close for Rangers, City responded through Jordan Keane, whose 20-yard drive was saved well by Brain.
It was much the same story in the second period as both sides created chances, before the home side finally broke the deadlock on 76 minutes.
Steadman’s left wing delivery into the City box was met by substitute Jack Lees and he beat Stoke keeper Dan Bachman with a well-placed glancing header.
But six minutes later, Stoke levelled when a low shot from Karim Rossi was parried by Brian, but the ball fell kindly for sub Yusuf Coban who fired home.
The play became far more open in extra time as players tired and it was mainly City asking the questions and Brian pulled off two excellent saves to thwart Coban and Alabi.
However the long night ended with joy for Rangers - especially Brain who was the undoubted hero.
Rangers - Jonrain, Michael Carr, Oliver Davies, Lucan Spittle, Darren Bullock (Sean Kinsella 28), Jermaine Johnson, James McCarthy, Jon Sheldon, Alex Steadman (Dan Cope 81), Jack Langston, Sam Bell (Jack Lees 66). Subs not used, Christian Dacres, Adam Alcock.
City - Dan Bachman, Jordan Keane, Kevin Gomez, Charlie Ward, Ryan O’Reilly (Ben Heneghan 75), Mason Watkins, Adam Thomas, Lucas Dawson (Yusuf Coban 75), James Alabi, Karim Rossi, Jordan Richardson (Eddie Lecyene 66). Subs not used, Dale Eve, Sam Westley.
Booked: Ryan O’Reilly (City).
Referee: Steve Rushton; Att: 186.