The contest was held at MJRobinson Structures Arena, South Normanton, in front of over 120 supporters.
Belper United, a step 5 club playing in the United Counties League, had a fantastic run in the competition last season, getting knocked out in the semi-final by the eventual winners, Buxton. Step 7 side South Normanton Athletic were knocked out in the first-round last season after a 2-1 loss to Belper United. This time around, The Shiners would be the victors.
The Greens (Belper United) started the game brilliantly, taking the lead after just six minutes. A nicely worked freekick routine allowed Kai Moore to tuck the goal away from close range.
Belper would continue to press and almost doubled their lead after 33 minutes but their low, curled effort bounced off the post and away. Normanton hit the woodwork too, just before half-time. After a freekick was launched into the box, a bullet header thundered against the crossbar.
The Shiners (South Normanton Athletic) continued to grow into the game in the second half and equalised after 65 minutes. Normanton forward Perry Richards received the ball on the right flank, drove into the box, cut in and fired home to level the score.
Both sides would continue to search for the winner for the remainder of the game, but to no avail as the full-time whistle blew with the score at 1-1. Penalties awaited.
Normanton took the first penalty, and unbelievably, up stepped their goalkeeper Ross Etheridge. He rifled the ball into the net. Etheridge then got back in goal, ready for Belper United’s first penalty. He saved it! Advantage South Normanton.
The Shiners put away their second penalty, before Etheridge saved Belper’s second! After two penalties each, Normanton had scored both and Belper had missed both.
The Greens found a way back in as Normanton missed their next spot kick and Belper scored theirs. Both sides scored their fourth penalties, meaning that Normanton just needed one more to win the shootout. Up stepped the fifth penalty taker, who confidently slotted it home to give South Normanton the win. Final score in the penalty shoot-out: South Normanton Athletic 4-2 Belper United.
The man of the match award was deservedly given to Ross Etheridge. The keeper made a number of good saves in the 90 minutes, before scoring a penalty and saving two in the shoot-out.
The Shiners now face a trip to Shirebrook Town in the second round, after their 3-0 first round victory against Clay Cross Town. That match will take place on Tuesday 7th November 2023.