Chris Woods reports from the Northern Commercials Stadium…
There was more penalty shootout heartbreak for Aldershot Town despite a valiant 1-1 draw after 120 minutes at the Northern Commercials Stadium in their Emirates FA Cup 1st Round Replay with Bradford City.
Non-League Shots had held League One side Bradford at 0-0 for 90 minutes but the Bantams took the lead on the 101st minute when George Fowler converted a Bantams cross into his own net.
A determined Shots side pulled one back in the second half of extra time when substitute Luke Howell slotted a low effort past Richard O’Donnell.
Bradford won the penalty shootout 4-1, scoring all their penalties through Eoin Doyle, Kai Bruenker, Lewis O’Brien and the instrumental Jack Payne, Adam McDonnell scored the Shots only successful penalty with Matt McClure and Gabe Osho’s efforts saved by O’Donnell.
A kit clash saw Shots debut an all-white away strip, with Gary Waddock making four changes to the side that lost 4-0 to Salford City on Saturday with Shamir Fenelon, Dominic Bernard, Josh Lelan and Regan Booty came in for Scott Rendell, Marvin McCoy, Adam May and Josh Barrett, drastically cutting the average age of the starting eleven down to just 21.
In a tight first half the EFL hosts had the best opportunity when Payne’s corner was met by the head of Doyle, he beat Will Mannion but Lewis Kinsella was there to clear off the line.
Mannion had to be alert in the second half too, to twice deny Payne from low efforts from the edge of the area.
The second half remained cagey but the hosts had a great chance in the 89th minute when they had a free kick on the edge of the area. Payne rolled it to Bantams captain Anthony O’Connor who struck low, but he couldn’t deceive the Shots wall as they held firm.
The game livened up in extra time. The Shots made use of the fourth substitute rule with captain Jake Gallagher replaced by eventual goal scorer Howell.
However Bradford burst the net first, with the help of a Shots player. Fowler, who had been monumental at the back, stuck out a leg to block George Miller’s low cross but unfortunately diverted it goalward and it crept past Mannion.
But the warrior-like Shots responded magnificently and almost equalised a minute later when Barrett volleyed just wide from the edge of the area.
On 108 minutes the Shots equalised. Daniel Devine fluffed a clearance skyward, McClure capitalised on that and nodded the ball to Regan Booty, he quickly squared to Howell on the edge of the box who skipped past Nathaniel Knight-Percival and slotted low past O’Donnell to send the Shots bench and Shots fans into raptures.
The Shots defence were twice called into action late on. Mannion spilled a cross only for Fowler to atone for his own goal and clear off the line, Mannion then tipped a fierce Lewis O’Brien effort over the bar with a minute to play.
Then came the shootout. Bradford took first and lead through Doyle, McClure then saw his penalty well saved by O’Donnell, in the next sequence of penalties Bruenker dispatched his past Mannion, then Osho went down the middle but couldn’t fool O’Donnell and he saved again.
Lewis O’Brien then struck expertly into the top corner despite Mannion guessing the right way with Aldershot’s McDonnell repeating that with the next penalty. But City’s Man of the Match Payne sent Mannion the wrong way to reward the Bantams with an away tie against their league rivals Peterborough United in the 2nd Round.
ALDERSHOT TOWN: Mannion, Bernard (McCoy 82), Lelan, Fowler, Kinsella, Osho, Gallagher (Howell 95), Booty, McDonnell, Fenelon (McClure 54), Berkeley-Agyepong (Barrett 58).
Subs not used: Cole, Wanadio.