Southam United suffered their second cup final defeat in a month, with an extra-time winner from Connoll Farrell settling a tense Coventry Charity Cup final, writes Paul Okey.
Having already lost out to Bromsgrove Sporting in the final of the Les James Challenge Cup, it was a bitter pill to swallow for Quentin Townsend’s men, who were left to rue a first-half penalty miss from Tunde Ajibade.
Saints were without leading scorer Louis Bridges for the Ricoh showpiece, while there was a familiar face in the Copsewood line-up in Farrell who spent a short spell at Banbury Road earlier in the season.
Farrell was a constant threat to Saints and he looked to have his first clear sight of goal in the second minute only for Jack Brighton to produce a fine cover tackle to nick the ball of his toes as he shaped to shoot.
In a lively opening, Lee Thomas and Chris Bright both drilled shots well wide for Southam, while Tom Cross was relieved to see Lawrence Rawlings’ airshot following good work from Copsewood on the left.
Ajibade screwed a shot wide for Saints in the 16th minute, while Martin Gormley was unlucky to see his toe-poke slip inches past a post after a neat piece of skill on the edge of the Southam box.
Ajibade’s first penalty appeal of the evening fell on deaf ears, with the officials deeming the striker the transgressor and seconds later Cross was called upon to save with his feet after Rawlings was afforded time and space on the angle of the box.
Rawlings’ next effort required another intervention from Cross, but the referee failed to spot his acrobatic fingertip save and awarded a goal kick.
As the half drew to a close it was Townsend’s men who looked the most likely scorers and George Whitelaw was in the right place to head off the line after a Southam corner had benefited from a couple of fortunate ricochets.
Calum Yeates shaped well after being picked out by Lee Thomas on the left, but he was unable to bend his shot into the top right-hand corner. He then turned and fired just over the bar after pouncing on a loose ball in the box.
Saints were presented with their clearest opportunity on the stroke of half-time when Ajibade was adjudged to have been bundled over.
The striker picked himself up to take the spot-kick, but it was at a good height for Copsewood keeper Dale O’Donnell who parried it away before reacting smartly to keep out Andy Yeates’ follow-up.
The aftermath to the save saw Max Crisp booked and unseemly scenes as the two sides went down the tunnel for half-time.
After the frenzied action of the first half, the second period was a much quieter affair, with the majority of the goalmouth action centreing around Farrell.
The diminutive frontman beat Cross to a hopeful punt forward just short of the hour, but got too much purchase on his lob.
Cross then had to be quickly off his line to block a shot from Farrell on the angle of his six-yard box.
The introduction of Tom Cooper in place of Bright allowed Thomas to push further forward and the wideman appeared to have his trailing leg taken from him in the box, but Saints penalty appeals fell on deaf ears.
It was a rare moment of attacking intent from Southam, who were dropping further and further back to combat the pace of Copsewood’s attacking three.
Farrell shot tamely at Cross, while substitute Suki Nijjar’s clever flick grazed the bar after Brighton had cut the ball back from the byeline.
Extra-time saw the quality dip further as both teams tired, with Farrell’s venomous shot from the edge of the box which cannoned off the top of the crossbar the only action of note in the first period.
Cross saved comfortably from a Matty Fowler header five minutes into the final period before Copsewood landed the killer blow two minutes later.
PJ Gordon capitalised on leggy defending to slip the ball through to Farrell and the striker coolly slipped the ball inside Cross’ near post.
As Saints chased a way back. Thomas curled a free-kick over the bar, while Myles Jones was unable to direct a free header on target from a Brighton delivery.
Cross was pushed up for another set-piece and it needed a fine cover tackle from James Hardie to prevent Copsewood scoring on the break.
Gordon hit the post with only Cross to beat but it was to prove immaterial as the final whistle blew immediately to spark scenes of wild celebration from the Coventry side.
Southam United: Cross, Brighton , Thomas, Jones, Hunt, Crisp (Cooper 51) Bright (Nijjar 78), Hardie, Ajibade, A Yeates (Grudzine 65), C Yeates. Subs not used: Townsend, Keller.
Copsewood: O’Donnell, Wilson-King, Whitelaw, Civzelis, Quirke, Fowler, Rawlings (Bawdon 108), Cairns, Gormley (Gordon 100), Farrell, Alleyne (Fraser 62). Subs not used Adamson, Lee.