Walton Casuals have secured promotion to the seventh tier for the first time in the club’s history in dramatic fashion after a penalty shoot-out at Corinthian-Casuals.
Having secured their play-off position in the final 15 minutes of the season at Ashford United, the Stags saw off Cray Wanderers in a seven-goal thriller at Hayes Lane to set up an all-Casuals final.
The two sides had seen just one goal across the two league meetings this season and emotions were running high with several former players lining-up for both teams.
Gareth Williams, Mu Maan, Gabriel Odunaike, Hamilton Antonio and Kevant Serbony all appeared for the hosts having previously worn the orange of Walton, while Stags skipper Daryl Coleman previously lined-up for the home side back in 2013.
Vice-captain Joe Hicks, who took the armband once Coleman was substituted, had also donned the armband during their 2015 trip to Brazil.
Given the form of Walton from the spot this season, a penalty shoot-out wouldn’t have been wished for by many prior to kick-off. But after a goalless 120 minutes, and with both sides having their goalkeepers to thank, the final promotion winner would be decided from 12 yards.
Max Hustwick converted the first for Walton and Harry Ottaway issued a quick response for the hosts. After a delay in the action, the penalties resumed with Harry Mills and Max Oldham both finding the back of the net. The clinical Josh Kelly made no mistake with his effort, before former top scorer Odunaike blazed his shot way over the bar to hand the advantage to the Stags.
Lartey Sarpong made full use of the opportunity and continued the Casuals’ 100% record from the spot, before the in-form Denzel Gerrar became the man of the moment with a save to deny Fraser Walker and clinching Walton’s first promotion in over a decade.