WARRINGTON Town missed out on a first ever Cheshire Senior Cup final with a penalty shoot-out defeat at Nantwich Town.
With Football League side Crewe Alexandra waiting for the winner, it was the hosts who held their nerve on spot kicks after a goalless draw over 120 minutes.
Danny Ventre’s miss proved the difference, as the Dabbers went through 5-3 on penalties.
It was Warrington’s second visit to the Weaver Stadium in as many weeks, having visited for a league game a fortnight prior.
On that night, a strong wind and muddy pitch, plus a delay due to floodlight failure, meant for a bizarre evening on which the Yellows were well beaten 4-1.
There was no danger of a repeat of that this time round, with the Yellows starting brightly.
Unfortunately, by the end, the 280-strong crowd were left wondering just how long the two teams would have to play before a goal would be scored, such was the stalemate.
Despite an encouraging opening, Warrington were restricted to several long shots, none of which caused any problems for Nantwich’s on-loan Stoke goalkeeper, Dan Gyollai.
The best chance of the first quarter came from Scott Harries’ left wing cross, from which Dylan Vassallo should have done better with his header.
But the best chance of the half was to fall to Nantwich, the impressive Ibou Touray beating a couple of men on the left to enter the box, and his low cross was met by Josh Hancock who was denied at point blank range by Warrington’s captain for the night, Tony McMillan.
After Sean Williams had a couple of long range efforts saved by Gyollai, McMillan was down well to hold on to a well-hit shot from Touray.
The sides went in at half time 0-0, after Gyollai held on to Danny Hattersley’s late header from a Lewis Codling cross.
The second half remained a balanced affair, with Nantwich gradually starting to wrestle the control which Warrington seem to enjoy for much of the first 45 minutes.
The long shots stopped, but were not replaced by clear cut chances.
Nantwich enjoyed their best spell shortly after the hour mark, centre half Ben Harrison carrying them forward and then heading over a cross by John Johnston.
Johnston looked a threat whenever he got the ball, and his low cross the box on 67 minutes probably deserved better.
The winger, on loan from Salford, also had a shout for a penalty waved away when his fierce shot appeared to strike John Shaw’s arm at close range.
Warrington introduced new signing Andrew Lewis for his debut with 15 minutes to go, switching Harries to right back, but the pattern of the game remained the same.
The last action of note in the 90 minutes was McMillan getting down sharply to save a deflected Johnston effort, and extra time beckoned.
The hosts came close to breaking the deadlock six minutes in to the extra period, substitute Steve Jones starting an attack from half way and then being released inside the box, only to see his stab at goal well saved by McMillan.
Warrington centre-back Evan Gumbs then denied a Northwich break with what looked like a superb tackle through the middle, only to be brought back by the referee and handed a yellow card.
The visitors’ best chance in the first half of extra time came when Shaw glanced wide from Vassallo’s corner when well placed.
A few crosses in the second half came to nothing and ultimately the game was to be decided by penalties.
Ventre stepped up first and hit his penalty high over the bar, and that put the Yellows on the back foot.
Nantwich converted their first four penalties, before Vassallo kept the Yellows in the contest despite the best efforts of Gyollai.
But up-stepped Touray with a perfectly struck penalty to make it five from five for the hosts and send them in to the final.
Nantwich Town: Gyollai, White, Touray, Stair, Harrison, Hall, Johnston, Bell (Peers), Brooke, Cooke (Riley), Hancock (Jones). Unused subs: Mwasile, Bourne.
Warrington Town: McMilan, Duggan (Lewis), Askew, Williams (Ventre), Gumbs, Vassallo, Smart, Hattersley, Codling (Monaghan), Harries. Unused subs: Carden, Robinson.