Triumph - or heartache?

LAST-MINUTE goals - they cause ecstasy and heartache in equal measure. Stuart Watson, who was at Wembley to cover Lowestoft's FA Vase Final defeat by Kirkham and Wesham on Sunday, recalls some of this season's last-gasp game-breakers.

LAST-MINUTE goals - they cause ecstasy and heartache in equal measure. Stuart Watson, who was at Wembley to cover Lowestoft's FA Vase Final defeat by Kirkham and Wesham on Sunday, recalls some of this season's last-gasp game-breakers.

Depending on which camp you come from, a last-minute strike can be the perfect end to a fairytale script or a blow that knocks every last bit of breath from your lungs.

The latter was never more apparent than for Lowestoft Town on Sunday when, having led for most of the game, an 84th equaliser was followed up by the ultimate kick in the teeth - a 93rd-minute winner.

Almost to a man, each player in a blue shirt fell to the Wembley turf. What little energy was left in those heavy legs was finally sapped, while the previously-tired opposition suddenly found the ability to sprint off in exuberant celebration.


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As so often happens in sport, a psychological impact manifests itself physically.

It's bad enough conceding late on in any match, but in a cup final or vital end-of-season league match it not only feels like the last of 90 or 120 minutes, but the last minute of the whole gruelling campaign that has got you to that very point.

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Of course Lowestoft and Kirkham & Wesham aren't the first and certainly won't be the last to experience such emotional juxtaposition on the big stage.

It may not be the end of the playoffs just yet for Crystal Palace, but their whole game plan for tonight's second match of the two-legged semi-final against Bristol City was completely blown out of the water on Saturday thanks to City's David Noble's stunning injury-time piledriver.

A similar scenario was seen in the Champions League semi-finals last month when, with Liverpool heading towards the away leg with a 1-0 advantage, John Arne Riise headed into his own net in injury time to give the tie a whole new complexion.

Ipswich Town have enjoyed their fair share of last gasp success recently, two late goals in back-toback games keeping their play-off dream alive right up until the last game of the season.

First Tommy Miller provided the equaliser at Wolves with a lastminute free-kick, while a week later Jon Walters crashed home three minutes from time to salvage a point at Preston.

Some teams become famed for the so-called 'never-say-die' spirit and an ability to score important goals late on in football matches.

Back in non-league, Needham Market have become well-known across the Ridgeons League Premier

Division this season for their unerring ability to score last-minute goals - more than 20 coming in the last five minutes in all competitions.

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