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Ellesmere boss quits after Shropshire Cup win

Oswestry | Sport | Published:

Delwyn Humphreys stood down as manager immediately after Ellesmere Rangers' sensational fight-back to win the Shropshire Premier Cup last night.

The Meresiders came from 2-0 down at the break to beat AFC Bridgnorth 4-2, after extra-time to claim the trophy at Shrewsbury Town's Greenhous Meadow.

Many of the team's young players will be back at the Meadow tonight for the Umbro Cup final against Nova United – the chance of their third piece of silverware in eight days.

They also took home the Midland Floodlit Youth League Cup after a 4-3 victory over Hednesford Town at Bromsgrove Rovers, with the first-team finishing the season in terrific form.

Rangers finished 11th in the West Midlands League Premier Division and are still involved in the League Cup, which will be their swansong for the season.

A fine run of 12 wins from their last 15 league games saw them fly up the table despite all of those fixtures, a League Cup tie and this final being played since April 1.

Humphreys departs after the crowning glory of the Premier Cup proud of what his players have achieved, but ready for a break to focus on his job as contracts manager of a plastering firm.

He vacates the role he took up in October 2012, with the club relegated from the Midland Alliance that season. Assistant manager Richard Brown's future has yet to be decided.

He said: "It's great to finish on this high but, sometimes in football, you need to know when it's time to have a rest. There's no changing my mind on that.

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"I have took the club as far as I can and it's been great watching these lads come good after a difficult first half to the season. What we have done since then is like winning the league.

"The players have left me with this great last memory of Ellesmere Rangers and I hope they go on to lots more success in the future."

His 19-month reign, from which he announced he was standing down after the game, looked to be ending on a damp squib with Bridgnorth 2-0 up at the break.

Defenders Andy Hartlebury and Josh Bradburn had both travelled up from the back to find the net, with the Meresiders looking on their way to being dead and buried.

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Ellesmere then lit up Shrewsbury Town's Greenhous Meadow with a memorable fight-back, battling back to pull level and send the game into extra-time.

Bridgnorth completely lost super-sub Matt Ryan twice, the first time when he stopped to head home Mike O'Reilly's cross and again when he nodded in Josh Brown's delivery.

Rangers were competing in their 17th game since April 1 but, once again, found reserves of energy and more goals from Marco Adaggio in the added 30 minutes.

Adaggio converted O'Reilly's free kick in the opening added period to put his side ahead for the first time, Bridgnorth further penalised by Bradburn's red card for giving away the set piece.

A penalty then killed Bridgnorth off in the second phase when Tom Whitney impeded Adaggio inside the area, who dusted himself off to fire the spot kick straight down the middle.

It sealed a real turn of the tables and allowed Humphreys to leave with his head held high, with a victory even he didn't see coming.

He said: "We thought that was it when we went 2-0 down, but these young lads just won't give up even when the going got really tough.

"I told them not many teams have done what they did. To claw that deficit at this level, particularly in a cup final, doesn't happen very often.

"I am so proud of them, they deserved to win by the end and we can't ask for much more than the way they came back to score four goals."

By Craig Birch

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