PROUD manager Steve Blackburn hailed the togetherness of Sholing’s under-18 youth team as “second to none” as they booked their ticket to the FA Youth Cup first round proper with a dramatic penalty shootout win at Aldershot Town.

Connor Pearson brought the young Boatmen back from behind to make it 1-1 after 90 minutes, but they looked to be heading out of the competition as they trailed 2-1 with the end of extra-time approaching.

Harry Butler had other ideas though, equalising with 118 minutes on the clock to take a marathon tie to penalties.

And it was the Sholing boys who ran out 4-3 victors, buoyed by some crucial saves from goalkeeper Aaron Whitmarsh and Harvey Wright's coolly-taken winner.

“I could not be more proud of every single one of them. The togetherness of the team is second to none," smiled Blackburn.

“They work hard as a group, play for each other and have a ‘never say never’ attitude. They don’t know when they’re beaten and will fight to the end.”

Sholing’s youth chairperson Carly Kinsey labelled it “an absolutely fantastic achievement for the lads and thoroughly deserved.”

She added: “Most of these players have come through our youth section and have been with us for six seasons which proves what we are doing at the club in terms of development of players is working.”

Sholing: Aaron Whitmarsh, Connor Pearson (Cameron Ross 89), James Johnson, Owen Royl [c], Harry Butler, Tommy Crump, Tanaka Madzvamutse (Jamie Staples 58), Callum Waughman, Bradley Johnson, Frazer McLean (Harvey Wright 86), Jean-Luc Ramdin. Subs not used: Ollie Shapland, Lewis Floyd.

*More on this story in the weekend’s Pink.