Tadley Calleva 1 AFC Portchester 1 (Tadley won 4-3 on pens)
Portchester managed to grab defeat from the jaws of victory as Tadley knocked them out of the Sydenhams Wessex League Cup on Tuesday.
The Royals led three times in this encounter - once in open play and twice in the penalty shoot out - before the home side completed their dramatic comeback by winning the tie on sudden death penalties.
There was little goalmouth action to speak of through out the game from two sides who went into this match struggling for form in recent weeks.
Portchester looked the more likely side to score in 90 minutes but both sides struggled to find the target when they were presented with a possible scoring opportunity.
The visitors’ first opportunity came on seven minutes when a cross was pulled back to the penalty spot and Nathan Paxton’s low shot trickled just wide.
Portchester went close again nine minutes later when the ball was worked up to the edge of the box from midfield. James Thomson turned his marker but his scuffed shot was deflected just wide.
Tadley’s first chance arrived on 29 minutes when a quick break down the right wing saw the ball crossed low to the far post but Darryl Phillips couldn’t apply the finishing touch to turn the ball over the line.
The home side went close again on the stroke of half time when a free kick was crossed deep to the far post but Brad Neal couldn’t knock the ball towards the target.
Portchester went closest to scoring four minutes into the second half when they broke forward quickly. Adam Cripps’ cross was blocked and the ball fell to Owen Fee, whose first time shot came back off the inside of the post.
A minute later and a corner picked out Nathan Paxton in the box but his downward header was missed by everyone as it passed through a crowd of players and went wide.
Thomson then almost created a goal for himself when he chased down a ball over the top and beat keeper Jack Martin to it. He then cut in from the left side of the box but fired his shot straight at Martin at his near post.
After this period of dominance by the visitors the home side went close to breaking the deadlock. Rowan Vine picked up the ball in midfield and played it to Connor Thorne on the right. His swirling cross caught keeper Brad Snelling out but when it dropped behind him it hit the post and bounced away to safety.
Vine was provider again on the hour mark when his pass slipped Ryan Doherty through towards goal but Snelling raced off his line to smother the ball at the striker’s feet.
With nine minutes remaining substitute Efu Kazadi and Dan Wooden combined for Portchester to push forward into the home penalty area. This initial attack was repelled but the ball was crossed to substitute Terrell Lewis but he couldn’t get any power behind his shot to trouble Martin.
Tadley went close to scoring again on 86 minutes when Thorne got clear down the right and his cross picked out Vine in the middle but a defender managed to block the ball as he tried to fire it into the net.
Tadley substitute George Farrelly was given his marching orders for a second yellow card before two goals were scored deep into injury time.
Portchester took the lead on 90+3 minutes. Lewis found some space on the right and played the ball inside to Wooden, whose shot was blocked. The home defence blocked another effort on goal before the ball rolled into the path of Rob Evans and he slotted it home from six yards out.
But just when it looked like the visitors had booked their place in the next round, the home side snatched an equaliser on 90+5 minutes.
After winning a free kick on the right, the ball was crossed into the near post area where Phillips met it and glanced his header into the net.
The game went to penalties and Portchester were handed an early boost by Snelling when he saved Vine’s spot kick. Evans fired home his penalty to put the visitors 1-0 up.
Tadley’s next penalty taker then sent Snelling diving the wrong way with his penalty and Wooden did the same thing with his spot kick to put Portchester 2-1 up.
Tom Walsh then tucked his penalty low into the corner before Martin dived to his left to keep out Lewis’ penalty and the shoot-out score was now 2-2.
Luke Neller smashed his penalty against the underside of the crossbar for Tadley before the visitors went in front again through Liam Bush after Martin couldn’t prevent his spot kick from finding the net.
Jake Nicholls put his penalty into the corner of the net to make it 3-3 but Thomson fired his effort wide. Both sides had now missed two spot kicks each and the game moved into sudden death penalties.
Tadley’s Jordan Goater almost saw his penalty saved by Snelling but he couldn’t keep it out and Kazadi then put his effort wide to give the home side a 4-3 win on penalties.
GOAL: Rob Evans (90+3 mins)
LINE-UP: Brad Snelling, Rob Evans, Liam Bush, Jordan Brooks, Jack Barker, Ellis Martin (replaced by Josh Warren on 46 mins), Nathan Paxton (replaced by Terrell Lewis on 68 mins), Adam Cripps, James Thomson, Owen Fee (replaced by Efu Kazadi on 72 mins), Dan Wooden.
UNUSED SUBS: Steve Ramsey, Mike Turvey.