Racing Club Warwick’s bid for their first silverware since 2005 came up well short at the Bedworth Oval when they lost 1-0 to Atherstone Town in the Birmingham Midweek Floodlit Challenge Cup final, writes Paul Okey.
A gruelling climax to the campaign looked to have caught up with Scott Easterlow’s side who were, in truth, flattered by the narrow margin of defeat.
Racers did enjoy the first clearcut chance, however, Martin Hutchcox meeting Henry Leaver’s corner with an excellent header which was tipped over the bar by James Beeson.
Mitch Thomson curled a free-kick from a central position just past a post for the Adders and had Cross at full stretch to tip another effort away for a corner. The striker was then desperately unlucky to see his goalbound shot deflected just off target.
Trea Bertie showed good pace to get in behind the Atherstone defence but dragged his shot tamely wide and it was to prove the best opportunity of the game for Racing Club as they struggled to get their passing game going.
Jonathan Gould was allowed to progress to the edge of the Racing Club box but his shot failed to match his run and was comfortably dealt with by Cross.
Ryan Quinn curled a shot over the bar as Atherstone built up some pressure and Racing Club received a huge let-off when Alex Naughton was give acres of space to pick his spot past Cross on the edge of the box, only to slide his effort past the keeper’s left-hand post.
The reprieve was only temporary, however, with referee Alan Cox having no hesitation in pointing to the spot after Hutchcox’s challenge from behind sent Gould to the floor just inside the box.
Naughton took the responsibility and despite Cross guessing right, the spot-kick evaded his reach to nestle in the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Sean Kavanagh was unable to get a decent contact on a headed opportunity at the other end as Racers tried to respond but it needed a superb save from Cross to ensure his side were not two goals down at the break. Naughton was allowed to twist and turn on the edge of the box before producing a well-struck shot which again had Cross at full stretch, with a strong hand diverting the ball just past the far post.
Racing Club were improved after the break but still found it hard to carve out clear-cut chances, with Atherstone always looking a threat on the break.
Marc Passey flashed a cross across the face of goal, while at the other end, desperate defending blocked a Kyle Baxter shot, with Thomson lashing the loose ball just past the angle on the half-volley.
Easterlow brought on Wade Malley and Mike Ellis in a bid to pep up his side but it was Atherstone who looked the side most likely to score the next goal.
Naughton was again wasteful after being played in by Gould, lifting his shot over the bar when it looked easier to score.
Rich Powell skied a half-chance on the edge of the Atherstone box after a heavy touch from Bertie, while Scott Goodby was inches away from a stunning second for the Adders with a sweetly struck shot from distance which grazed the bar.
However, with Warwick’s race already run, one goal always looked like being enough.