Aldershot Town made it through to the Fourth Round of the Isuzu FA Trophy with a penalty shootout win over Eastleigh at the Silverlake Stadium, despite falling behind by two goals.
Goals from Jack Barham and Haji Mnoga levelled the game after Jayden Harris and Paul McCallum fired the Spitfires into a two-goal lead.
The Shots made two changes from the side that drew 2-2 with Stockport County in the Emirates FA Cup with Joe Haigh and Kwame Thomas coming into the side in place of Josh Stokes and Jack Barham.
Eastleigh took an early lead after just eight minutes in a moment that Jordi van Stappershoef will want to forget. Former Shot Jayden Harris launched an effort on target from outside the box, but despite it looking fairly comfortable for the Dutch ‘keeper, the ball slipped out of his grasp and crossed the line.
It was certainly a nervy start for the Shots with a few mishit clearances putting the back-line under some pressure, but, Aldershot did have a chance to equalise almost immediately. A swift break saw Joe Haigh with the ball on the edge of the area, he had Kwame Thomas to his left and found him, but in not taking the shot first-time, Thomas allowed a defender to cover and make a block.
And the away side were let off from falling into further danger in the 12th minute when Enzio Boldewijn somehow didn’t convert from just a couple of yards out at the back-post from a free-kick delivered down Eastleigh’s right.
Already without Tommy Widdrington in the dugout, The Shots lost another member of the coaching team as Assistant Manager Richard Dryden received a straight red card and was forced to join Widdrington in the stands for the rest of the game.
The Shots weren’t without their chances to level the game but found the majority of their positive spells of possession resulting in good crosses that were just out of the reach of the Shots bodies in the centre.
But after a long spell of this, an Ollie Harfield cross found Kwame Thomas and he headed toward goal but Eastleigh ‘keeper Tommy Scott pulled off an incredible save to deny him.
The Shots route back into the game became theoretically easier just six minutes into the second-half when Eastleigh were reduced to 10-men. Joe Haigh raced through on goal but was brought down by Ludwig Francilette just outside the area, and the centre-back was shown a straight red card.
Or so they thought… Eastleigh scored a second just four minutes after being receiving their numerical disadvantage. A cross into the Shots’ box falls to Haji Mnoga’s feet, but he slips as he touches the ball down and Paul McCallum is able to finish from a few yards out.
Jordi van Stappershoef pulled off a great save to keep Eastleigh from pulling further in front. A ball in from the Spitfire’s right found McCallum just yards out but van Stappershoef showed great reactions to deny him his second.
Jack Barham was introduced in the 64th minute and made an instant impact, scoring with his first touches, just seconds after coming on, brilliantly taking the ball down and finishing past Scott!
The goal seemed to rejuvenate the Shots who began to pile the pressure on their hosts. Lorent Tolaj and Ryan Glover both came close within a couple of minutes of Barham’s goal.
But the Shots were able to draw level in the 74th minute! Ollie Harfield raced down the left and delivered a low-cross and after a bit of penalty area pinball, Haji Mnoga blasted the ball home with a low effort.
Aldershot weren’t satisfied with levelling the game, however, and pushed to complete another incredible turnaround. Lorent Tolaj had an effort cleared off the line as the game entered the final 10 minutes.
But the Shots couldn’t find a winner as some fantastic last-ditch defending from Eastleigh with just seconds remaining denied Olly Scott and Lorent Tolaj’s goalbound efforts with just seconds remaining and the game headed to a dreaded penalty shootout.
Scott Quigley scored for Eastleigh (1-0)
Kwame Thomas scored for Aldershot (1-1)
Chris Maguire scored for Eastleigh (2-1)
Cian Harries scored for Aldershot (2-2)
Aidan Barlow scored for Eastleigh (3-2)
Lorent Tolaj scored for Aldershot (3-3)
Corey Panter missed the target for Eastleigh (3-3)
Tyler Frost scored for Aldershot (3-4)
Enzio Boldewijn scored for Eastleigh (4-4)
Coby Rowe missed the target for Aldershot (4-4)
Nigel Atangana missed for Eastleigh with Jordi van Stappershoef saving (4-4)
Jack Barham scored for Aldershot to win the shootout (4-5)
Shots lineup: 1. Jordi van Stappershoef, 2. Haji Mnoga, 3. Ollie Harfield, 4. Cian Harries (C), 5. Coby Rowe, 8. Tyler Frost, 9. Lorent Tolaj, 11. Ryan Glover, 20. Joe Haigh (18. Olly Scott 59′), 27. Tommy Willard (22. Jack Barham 65′), 39. Kwame Thomas.
Subs not used: 38. Finlay Westen, 10. Josh Stokes, 23. Hady Ghandour, 24. Maxwell Mullins, 31. Oliver Turner.