By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
As if the pressure of taking the decisive spot-kick in a penalty shoot-out isn't enough, imagine stepping up against one of your old school pals with a trophy on the line.
That's the situation Michael Richardson faced on Monday night - and the midfielder sent his ex-Kenton School classmate Andrew Jennison the wrong way to win the Sage Northumberland FA Senior Cup final for Newcastle United Reserves.
Richardson converted the pressure penalty after Team Northumbria's Christian Graham hit the post and Jak Alnwick saved from Daniel Riley, while Ryan Donaldson, Ryan McGorrigan and Greg McDermott had all slotted home.
And, following a thrilling 4-4 draw in normal time in the Sports Direct Arena showpiece, the shoot-out success was particularly sweet for the 20-year-old as he got one over on his boyhood friend Jennison.
"I've known him since we were little," explained Richardson. "We were in the same year at school and played for the same team for four or five years. I was good mates with him and still am. I went up to take the winning kick and he knows which way I go - so obviously I put it in the other corner and he dived the other way so it was lucky for me.
"He had a few words to say before I took it, but I knew that he was going to go the way that I normally go so I just put it in the other corner. He didn't have a chance.
"He did well over the game and it was a little bit of extra pressure. Dummy (Paul Dummett) went to school with him too and he bottled it - I don't think he wanted the grief off Andrew if he did miss. He'd have been getting a bit of stick off him.
"Him and Tamas (Kadar) were tenth and 11th... I think Jak (Alnwick, goalkeeper) was taking one before them! But I was happy to take one and it was a good result in the end."
United looked to be coasting at half-time as they led 3-1 thanks to goals from Dummett and a Phil Airey brace, but Team Northumbria kept coming back and even when Dan Taylor made it 4-2, the newly-crowned Northern League second division champions forced extra time.
"They worked very hard without the ball, because we had a lot of the ball a lot of the game, particularly in the first half when we controlled the game and kept the ball in their half, which was good," Richardson said.
"But they defended very well, I thought, and put up a very good fight. I think we could have passed the ball a little bit quicker and raised the tempo - we knew they were going to sit back on the edge of the box and let us have it for long periods of time - and we could have got a couple more goals.
"It was a good game and congratulations to them for winning their league. They'll go up now and hopefully go up again because they've got a good little team there and I think they proved that last night."
For Newcastle, though, it was ultimately a successful defence of the 128-year-old trophy and the second time Richardson has got his hands on the prize.
"I played in it last year for the first time and we won (4-0 against Blyth) so obviously to win it two years in a row is good," he said.
"And playing at the stadium is a massive bonus. We don't get to play there that often so come the end of the season, everyone wants to play in that game because it's at the stadium."