WALLISDOWN-based Matt Brown saved his best until last as his third man-of-the-match display in the FA Vase this season helped Sholing to victory at Wembley.
The 24-year-old goalkeeper, a lecturer at Bournemouth and Poole College, starred as the Wessex League champions overcame West Auckland Town 1-0 yesterday.
But it was not the first time Brown had produced the goods during the Boatmen’s season-long quest for Vase glory and, in each case, was the backbone of single-goal victories.
He saved a Chris Flood penalty to get them over a tricky first hurdle at Winchester City in October and pulled down the shutters on fifth-round opponents Larkhall Athletic, Sholing’s toughest test during their march to the arch.
But Brown’s most telling contribution came in the final as he summoned another stubborn show of defiance which left the County Durham outfit with nothing to show for their second final appearance in three years.
“There were no nerves,” he said. “It helped that we came to the stadium for a tour on Friday and soaked it all in.
“Once the first whistle went, we were all zoned in and it was great to play on such a nice pitch.”
Asked for the pick of his saves, Brown added: “I liked the one in the second half from the (Dennis Knight) free-kick. He put a bit of pace on it, but I got enough on it to get it over the crossbar.”