THE man between the sticks made all the difference for a college football side– sending them to the final of a national competition for the first time.

New College Durham men’s football development centre team won the seven-a-side AoC Regional Football Tournament this month and, with it, a place in the national finals next year.

FE colleges from across the North took part in the round-robin tournament and after five wins and one defeat, New College Durham faced a final match against Gateshead College.

After extra time, the game was level at 4-4 so went to a penalty shootout in which goalkeeper Harry Renwick saved a shot then scored the winning penalty.

Ronnie Thompson, head coach,said: "I’m so proud of both the men’s and women’s football teams and the way they have played throughout the tournament. They’ve demonstrated a fantastic team spirit, on and off the pitch, and have been so resilient in their attacking and defending play.

"We’ve played in this tournament over the past few years and we’ve gradually got better and better, it’s fantastic to see how far we’ve come as a sports college to be able to compete and win a tournament of this standard."