THE decisive penalty from Sam Murphy, converted with impressive calm given the circumstances, was the ultimate way for Chertsey Town to end Northwich Victoria’s defiance.

And only then was there no coming back for Steve Wilkes’ remarkable side, who had rebuffed every other attempt to beat them.

The Curfews, favourites to lift the FA Vase, celebrated wildly when their midfielder completed a 5-3 shoot-out success after the teams could not be separated over 120 minutes.


In fact, add in the first leg and put injury time in with it, and in almost four hours they matched each other on almost every measure.

Murphy’s joy, and relief too, contrasted with Ryan Winder’s despair after his strike from 12 yards, parried by goalkeeper Nick Jupp, was the only one not to find the net.

Chertsey had created more chances, notably when prompting Vics’ custodian Danny Taberner to make a prodigious intervention to prevent Lewis Driver breaking the deadlock on 87 minutes, but they were troubled too.

Jupp had been brilliant at the other end when he stretched to his left to help Rob Doran’s header around an upright in the first-half before parrying low to his right in the second after Joel Brownhill danced into a shooting space.

Vics, swift on the counter, often appeared more incisive.

Chertsey were neater, more elaborate even, but their final pass – either intercepted by a well-stationed defender or executed poorly – continuously let them down.

It was only in the closing stages, with Vics wilting physically for the first time and with a raucous crowd injecting energy into Chertsey’s flagging attackers, that they laid siege to their guests’ goal.

Taberner followed one moment of inspiration with another when, 60 seconds after his initial stop, he sprinted from his line to smother Driver’s lobbed effort after the striker ran clear.

Driver, the Curfews’ most effective front-runner as he moved cleverly and excelled aerially, headed wide Dale Binns’ driven cross too after Jake Baxter had tumbled in the area following a collision with an opponent.

Vics fans held their breath, while those cheering Chertsey howled with derision when referee Savvas Yianni refused to bow to their deafening demands for a penalty.

Curiously, all of that action exploded during a five-minute spell that deviated wildly from the pattern that preceded it.

The Surrey outfit never attacked with such concentrated frenzy again but they did create another glorious chance in extra-time when Baxter’s drive skimmed the crossbar after Driver and Lubo Guentchev combined.

There was always a lingering threat they might be punished for not breaking through and Northwich substitute Jordan Darr lifted a tame finish into Jupp’s arms after darting into a space behind Michael Peacock.

Doran had the best opportunity though when his angled run left him clear with seconds left on the clock only for Jupp to jab a leg in the way of his shot.

It was fitting that a contest with so much at stake, and so little between the contenders, should last the distance.

However that means the pain of falling short is only more acute.

Pride will replace it, if not now then eventually, and Wilkes’ players should feel plenty of that when they reflect on their achievement.

“Those lads did absolutely everything that I asked of them,” reflected Brian Turner, Vics’ chairman, afterwards.

He meant it, and the response of his side’s supporters suggests they agreed.