JOINT coach Carl Robinson saluted the “bottle” of kicker James Evens after Hartlepool Rovers suffered the heartbreak of a Durham Intermediate Cup final defeat to Consett.
Evens failed with a penalty with the last kick of the match as Rovers were beaten 31-29 at Hollow Drift.
Rovers had led 26-7 and 29-14 last night only for Consett to produce an incredible comeback to snatch the lead for the first time three minutes from the end when Jack Clark went over for a try in the left corner.
But the drama was not over as the Friarage outfit were awarded a penalty almost in front of the posts in the third minute of stoppage time.
Evens though saw his kick strike high on the right-hand upright with the rebound caught by a Consett defender who gleefully booted the ball out as referee Carl Hall blew the final whistle.
“It shouldn’t have come down to that kick,” said Robinson, who shares the coaching duties with Graham Puckrin.
“We should have won it much earlier, but we took our foot off the gas – I think we thought the cup as in the bag.
“We played the second half as the team that was under pressure when we were the side that was in front.
“It takes a big man to step up and take a kick like that and Evo is a big man. There are not many who would have had the bottle to put their hand up and say ‘I’m on this’.
“How many footballers on hundreds of thousands of pounds have we seen who would
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not take the last penalty in a shoot-out.”
Robinson says that he hopes once the disappointment subsides there will be a positive reaction from the squad.
Rovers finished eighth in Durham Northumberland One and wants the club challenging at the top end of the league.
“We spoke to the lads after the game and said this result could send us one way or the other,” he told SportMail.
“It can either kick-start us for next season or we’ll be down fighting in the doldrums.
“That’s the last thing we want, especially given the quality we’ve got in this squad.
“We played some great rugby last night – Consett are a very good side, but for 40 minutes they struggled to live with us.
“Sadly, we just could not carry that on in the second half.
“We could not have asked a lot more of the lads though – it’s been a long hard season and some of them were out on their feet.
“Fair play to Consett. They are a good team and they were always going to come back at us.
“They like to move the ball out wide and play some great rugby.”
SEE Thursday’s Mail for match report and pictures