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AFC Wulfrunians 2 Chasetown FC 2 (Chasetown lose 5-4 on penalties)

The FA Cup

The FA Cup

A penalty shoot-out sealed Chasetown’s fate at the first hurdle in the FA Cup at AFC Wulfrunians.

Goalkeeper Ryan Price and Richard Batchelor were both absent due to injuries picked up in Saturday’s first leg and although they hit the front twice the Scholars couldn’t hold their determined opponents.

Ben Steane set up Chasetown’s first attack in the second minute but Craig Holland fired his right-footed shot over the bar before Craig Milligan did likewise. The Scholars looked strong down the right, and some lively early action ensued with Steane at the forefront as he battled the home defence.

Danny Smith just failed to get on the end of Mark Branch’s cross in the tenth minute, and Chasetown’s bright start continued with Martin Taylor punching away former Scholar Tony Collins’s free kick and Branch sending a free kick just wide.

Wulfrunians’ first chance came when Stewart Mason sent a high ball into the box on 13 minutes but Andy Mitchell’s header went wide at the far post, and this seemed to fire the home side up, Adeola Bandele shooting low but Taylor was able to get behind it.

Smith and Steane were still in good form but could not find the target, while Holland was working as hard as he could. Gary Birch sent in a well-placed cross from the left in the 18th minute but Smith was just beaten to the header and the ball went out for a corner, with Branch firing high and wide from the follow-up.

Danny Bragoli then forced home keeper Dan Tipton into a fine save, diving to his right to stop the Scholar’s right-footed shot, and there was little to choose between the two sides. Mitchell’s header bounced wide on 24 minutes and Smith was beaten to another cross from Birch, before Bandele produced a storming run down the left but his final shot flew too high.

Scholars skipper Richard Teesdale did his best to marshal his squad from the defence with his typical stentorian cries, and the side kept their heads against some tough marking by the Wulfs. Bandele sent another shot high and wide on 41 minutes, but it was the Scholars who took the lead four minutes later with the last kick of the half. Milligan’s first attempt was blocked by the defence, but he found a gap and fired a right-footed shot past Tipton into the corner of the net.

The hosts started brightly after the break and Liam Evans shot wide two minutes into the second half with Taylor beaten and seconds later the equaliser came as Mitchell headed home a corner at the far post.

Dan Crudginton headed away a cross from the left as the Scholars fought to regroup, but moments later Bandele produced another solo run down the left but Taylor once again denied him.

Crudginton was next to go close for the hosts as the Wulfrunians really began to turn up the pace making the visiting defence look sluggish, and tempers began to fray with Holland and Mason receiving yellow cards after a set-to.

Tipton dived low to his right to deny Smith on 68 minutes as the Scholars slowly began to show fleeting signs of improvement, Smith then beating a defender and rattling the crossbar with a right-footed shot in the 80th minute.

Taylor then denied substitute Richard Anslow before John Branch battled past two defenders only to see his shot blocked by Tipton, Harry Harris lashing the rebound over the bar as did Mark Branch with a free kick moments later.

Smith continued to find chances, beating two defenders in the closing minutes only for Tipton to save his shot, while Taylor hung onto a header from Liam Evans after a long ball from Crudginton.

Birch then sent an effort across the face of goal but the target could not be found and extra time beckoned.

The sides continued to be closely matched before Smith missed a clear chance seven minutes into the first period, while Birch headed Bragoli’s free kick against the crossbar but the flag was up for offside.

Three minutes into the second period Mark Branch sent in a perfect curling free kick and Birch was there to head the ball into the corner past the stranded Tipton and restore Chasetown’s lead.

Despite some Scholars supporters already beginning to celebrate there was still time for a fightback from the hosts, and with just two minutes on the clock the Scholars were left in disbelief as Crudginton headed in Anslow’s cross at the near post.

In the final minute the home side almost took the lead, Taylor tipping away a Bryn Jones shot after another Anslow cross, and it was time for a penalty shoot-out.

The first nine kicks were put away in almost routine fashion, but it was disaster at the last for Harris as his low kick was saved by Tipton and the Wulfrunians progressed to a huge roar from their supporters.

Chasetown will aim to pick themselves up as they visit Spalding United on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

AFC Wulfrunians: D Tipton, Collins (c), Crudginton, M Tipton, Asbury, Mason, Lawson, Palmer, Bandele, Mitchell, Evans. Subs: Anslow (Mitchell 67), Showell (Evans 113), Jones (Lawson 56), Gummery, Fenn, Court, Scott.
Chasetown: Taylor, M Branch, Milligan, Slater, Thomas, Teesdale (c), Steane, Bragoli, Birch, D Smith, Holland. Subs: J Branch (Milligan 78), Marshall, Greenway, Harris (Steane 81), Birt, Egan, Horton.

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