IT may not be how they envisaged it but Winsford United have their revenge.

If anything, this way is sweeter.

From 2-0 down after an hour, in which time they’d barely registered a shot at goal, they somehow found a way to reach the final.

This was no fluke, though.

It was fitting that Clayton McDonald stroked in a sudden death spot-kick that delivered a 4-3 win in a penalty shoot-out and secured for Blues a spot in the Mid-Cheshire District FA Senior Cup final.

A tactical switch by Winsford manager Lee Duckworth, who sent the defender forward to play as a striker for the final half-hour, unsettled Albion’s back-line.

They were never steady again.

Blues had served a warning they had not given up hope when Dean Clarke, with the goal at his mercy, blazed wildly over after goalkeeper Jake Eastwood parried Ryan Hopper’s shot.

Rhys Saunders picked out McDonald five minutes later and he was allowed to tame the ball before Michael Wilson diverted his goal-bound shot.

Matty Coughlan then smuggled Will Foster’s attempt off the line from the resulting corner before Saunders directed a header out of stand-in custodian Greg Hall’s reach from Short’s cross to make it 2-1.

Blues got lucky for their leveller, but they had earned it.

Alex Elliott’s drive from distance struck a defender and rolled into the path of Short who gleefully smashed it past Hall from close-range.

With no extra half-hour, a shoot-out followed the final whistle.

Will Booth and Billy Smart both missed for Witton and Winsford appeared certain to progress after Short, Saunders and Liam Delaney all converted.

However Hall stopped Ryan Hopper’s attempt and Damian Skolorzynski’s shot struck a post after Wilson and Delial Brewster had scored to send it to sudden death.

Matty Coughlan smashed the ball against the crossbar for Witton before McDonald completed the job.

It was an outcome few will have envisaged after Albion reached the break in front thanks to substitute Rob Hopley’s stooping header from Booth’s corner.

Witton, fielding a line-up that featured eight changes from one that held high-flying Gainsborough on Saturday, doubled their lead on 57 minutes when Booth again picked out Hopley from a flag-kick.

The front man’s volley stung the palms of Langley before Delaney accidentally nudged the loose ball over the line as he tried to recover.

To their credit, Blues didn’t buckle.

Spurred in part by a feeling they ought to have beaten Albion in last season’s showpiece, they will have an opportunity now to lift the trophy for a seventh time.

Witton | 5-4-1 | Eastwood (GK) (Hall (GK) 63), Yates, Gardner, Wilson, Wardle (Owens 46), Coughlan, Booth, Noone, Cesaire (Hopley 38), Smart, Brewster Subs not used Devine, McKenna Goals Hopley 45, Delaney 57 (own goal) Booked Gardner (foul)

Winsford | 3-5-2 | Langley (GK), Foster, McDonald, Delaney, Skolorzynski, Elliott, Hopper, Howell (Collins 61), Clarke (Bircumshaw 82), Short, Saunders Subs not used Jenyons, Joe Duckworth, Lee Duckworth Goals Saunders 68, Short 81

Referee Ray Duncalf

Attendance 177

Penalty shoot-out

Witton | Will Booth’s low attempt is blocked by Winsford goalkeeper Michael Langley, who adjusts in the nick of time to prevent it from squirming back past him and over the line (0-0)

Winsford | Dave Short’s kick is powerful enough to beat Greg Hall despite the Albion number one getting both hands to the ball (0-1)

Witton | Billy Smart drags his right-footed attempt wide of the target (0-1)

Winsford | Rhys Saunders strikes with confidence, sending Hall the wrong way (0-2)

Witton | Rob Hopley dispatches his attempt with an authority not shown by his teammates (1-2)

Winsford | Liam Delaney, unfortunate to score an own goal that put Witton 2-0 up, makes amends when he converts with a swagger after a slight pause in his run-up (1-3)

Witton | Michael Wilson keeps his side’s hopes alive with a unerring finish (2-3)

Winsford | Greg Hall blocks Ryan Hopper’s kick to further boost Albion’s hopes (2-3)

Witton | Delial Brewster’s attempt sneaks into the corner despite Langley reaching it low to his left (3-3)

Winsford | Damian Skolorzynksi fluffs a chance to send Blues through when his penalty raps a post (3-3)

Witton | Matty Coughlan smashes his kick against the crossbar to mark the start of sudden death (3-3)

Winsford | McDonald keeps his head to roll the ball into the corner and send his side through to the final (3-4)