BATTLING: Torquay score in the final against Eastleigh. Picture: Rob Tibbles 0807-176_11
LATE drama in the searing Sunday afternoon heat provided a fitting end to a week of football action in the Errea South West Challenge Cup.
Eastleigh emerged with a 5-4 penalty shootout victory over Torquay United at Bideford's Sports Ground to clinch the inaugural pre-season competition.
Although more established professional clubs, including Crystal Palace, Yeovil Town and Kidderminster Harriers featured during the six days, the Hampshire outfit proved worthy winners.
Built around a rock-solid defence, the Bluesquare South boys were the most consistent performers of an enjoyable week.
In fact, at 2-0 up with just six minutes to go in the final, they looked to be cruising towards the silverware.
Then, a deflected strike from Ashley Yeoman handed Torquay a lifeline which they seized upon moments later.
Another Gulls' substitute, Mustapha Carayol, brilliantly blasted a 40th minute curler beyond Jason Matthews to pinch a 2-2 draw and set up the spotkick lottery.
Earlier, Eastleigh looked on course for a solid win as they soaked up pressure and took command with two set plays.
Tricky winger Mark Marshall - later named the Errea player of the tournament - outfoxed Torquay's Mark Ellis who sent him tumbling in the box.
Impressive midfield giant Peter Adeniyi tucked the penalty past Martin Rice for a half-time lead.
Man of the match and Eastleigh skipper Andy Harris doubled the advantage on 70 minutes with a vicious freekick which whistled past Rice from 20 yards.
Despite the Plainmoor side's late rally, Eastleigh once again proved unbreakable when penalties decided the outcome after 90 minutes.
They smashed home all five kicks with minimum fuss while opposing 'keeper Rice blazed United's fifth kick wide.