Hednesford Town recorded an absolutely superb victory on penalties against plucky West Auckland Town as The Pitmen defended like lions for almost an hour with nine men and prevailed in the most dramatic fashion.
Kris Taylor scored the winning penalty but that barely tells half the story as the home side belied the three league gap with a battling performance, but full credit must go to the heart and desire of Rob Smith’s men who defended as if their lives depended on it and could have even won the game in extra time.
Matthew Moffat swept in the opening goal on 33 minutes for West Auckland but Wayne Riley equalised when goalkeeper Jordan Nixon stood like a statue as the Hednesford forward tapped in from a yard out on 42 minutes.
Moffat deflected his second goal past Dan Crane on the stroke of half time but Francino Francis equalised on 52 minutes to restore parity.
The game changed when 30 seconds after he had hit the post, Dave Macpherson saw red and within 3 minutes Ben Bailey received a second yellow for kicking the ball away.
The momentum swung to the home side, but they lacked the composure to finish The Pitmen off and when they did get through, Dan Crane was unbeatable.
Osborne had a ‘nailed-on’ penalty shout turned down in extra time and was subsequently, mystifyingly, booked for diving. Nixon then saved at the feet of the Hednesford man when he latched on to a poor back pass whilst at the other end Crane once again excelled as he saved brilliantly at the death to take the game to spot kicks.
The Pitmen keeper then saved 2 penalties in the shoot out, allowing Taylor to deliver the final, decisive blow in a truly memorable Cup tie which will live long in the memory of the hardy, committed Hednesford fans who witnessed it.
Crane, Disney, Campion© (Thompson-Brown 92), Bailey, Francis (52), Macpherson, Osborne, Durrell (Anagho-Ntamark 99), Harvey (Melbourne 69), Riley (42), Taylor
Subs Not Used
West Auckland Town
Nixon, Pattinson (Gray 11), Gibson, Wilkinson, Galpin, Close, Vipono, Briggs, Moffat (c) (33, 45), Campbell (Richardson 45), Carr
Subs Not Used
Garthwaite, Hall, Banks, Atkinson
Bookings – Disney, Bailey, Osborne, Close,
Sent Off – Macpherson, Bailey,
Entertainment Rating – 5 Stars
Star Man – Francino Francis
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Photos by Colin Rogers