Manager Bobby Wilkinson leads the celebrations with Rhys Tyler
Hungerford Town 2 Leamington 1
LITTLE Hungerford Town will take their average crowd of 149 into the National League South next season - just two divisions away from the Football League.
More than 1,300 turned out for Monday afternoon’s Evo Stik League Southern Premier Division play-off final against a Leamington side that had come down from the Conference last season, but once again Hungerford overturned the odds to put another notch in the club’s history books while bringing the highest-ever level of football to west Berkshire.
“I’m the proudest man in the world right now,” said manager Bobby Wilkinson. “I just knew we were going to do it. It was written in the stars.
“I never stopped believing in these boys because they never let me down.
“Little Hungerford Town are in the National South.”
Hungerford again did it the hard way. Having trailed 2-0 at Hitchin Town in Wednesday night’s semi-final, they were again left behind after 20 minutes when former Aston Villa player Courtney Baker-Richardson drove home Lee Moore’s corner, and they had to battle back into the game in wind and rain.
Their best chance of the opening half saw Nat Jarvis latch on to a poor goal kick from Tony Breeden to race towards the his, only to shoot wide of both goalkeeper and post.
Yellow cards for Garyn Preen and Ian Herring might have left them on edge but as in so many games over the past few seasons, Hungerford are never more dangerous than when behind and they dominated the second period going down the Bulpit Lane slope.
When Stefan Brown slipped past his marker to slot home the 64th minute leveller, there was no stopping the home side, who snatched the decisive goal after 83 minutes when Mike Jones arrived perfectly at the near post to head home James Clark’s corner, setting up seven more minutes before Hungerford again created history.
Hungerford Town: Strudley; Horgan, Day, Jones, Tyler; Preen, Herring, Rees, Clark; Brown, Jarvis. Subs: Goodger, Draycott, Rusby, John, Boardman.
Leamington: Breeden; Taundry, Hood, Made, Gudger; Moore, Edards, Gittings, Austin; Dubidat, Baker-Richardson. Subs: Mackey, George, Halsall, Ogleby, Elvins.
Referee: Aji Ajibola. Assistants: Van Anekwe, Scott Rudd. Fourth Officials: Ryan Atkin. Attendance: 1363.