Farnborough claimed the derby honours over Aldershot Town in a penalty shoot-out played in thick fog
Farnborough FC stole the derby honours in a dramatic Hampshire Cup showdown with Aldershot Town on Tuesday night – but very few saw it coming.
The visitors held their nerve in a farcical penalty shoot-out played in thick fog, which left the majority of the 318 hardy souls at the ESS Stadium well and truly misty-eyed.
Referee Dean Treleaven was seconds away from abandoning the game at the end of an otherwise dour 90 minutes with the scores level at 1-1 and visibility at an absolute minimum.
But a sensible agreement from the two managers – Aldershot stand-in Matt Gray and Boro’s Spencer Day – to skip extra time and go straight into penalties was ratified by Hampshire FA over the phone, at least allowing the tie to reach a conclusion on the night.
Unsurprisingly, in what was a nightmare scenario for goalkeepers, nine of the ten spot-kicks were converted with the exception being Martin Rowlands’ effort which cannoned off the post, leaving Josh Huggins to rifle home the winning kick and send Farnborough through to the last eight.
“It was a case of common sense prevailing,” Boro boss Day admitted.
“Matt spoke to me just before the final whistle and asked if we’d support his suggestion to go straight to penalties which I did immediately.
“We’re both playing mixed teams and both have small squads with injuries, so it was absolutely the right decision to make.
“I can’t tell you much about the penalties because I couldn’t see them, but it’s good to get through nevertheless.”
And Gray, whose young Shots side – made up of seven academy players – gave a good account of themselves against an almost full-strength Boro, added: “The ref was going to call the game off and with the busy Christmas period coming up neither club needed another fixture, so it was the only sensible solution really.
“It’s disappointing to go out but it was a good night for us on the whole. It was a game played in good spirit and it was nice to take a look at some of the scholars and get some minutes in the legs of some first-team players.”
Striker Phil Page put Farnborough in front on 26 minutes after latching onto the end of a slick move involving Dan Bennett and ex-Shot Scott Donnelly before coolly rounding keeper Luke Williams.
Bennett then should have doubled Boro’s lead, somehow firing wide from just 12 yards out, and Boro paid the price minutes later in what proved to be a moment to forget for young academy goalkeeper Ryan Hope.
From a routine backpass, Hope – on as a substitute for the injured Matt Lovett – completely miskicked his clearance, presenting Aldershot’s young striker Elliott Blair with the easiest of tap-ins.
Aldershot’s Matt Rudolph came closest to finding a winner in a rather nondescript and, quite frankly, woeful second half, before the weather provided a rather unexpected twist in the tale.
Adam Mekki, Matt Paterson and Anthony Tonkin all converted their spot-kicks for the Shots, cancelled out by Boro trio Donnelly, Dave Tarpey and Page, before Rowlands crucially missed.
Steve Laidler then put Boro in front and after Aldershot’s Rob Gerrard made no mistake to bring it back to 4-4, Huggins stepped up to finish the job.
SHOTS: Williams, Douglas (Sims 74), Tonkin, Rudolph (Howard 87), Grosvenor, Gerrard, Mekki, Rowlands, Blair, Paterson, Halliday (Pollock 74). Subs: Ogoloma, Kennedy.
BORO: Lovett (Hope 23), Huggins, Treacher, Monan, Fearn, Fofana, Bennett, Laidler, Page, Hammond (Tarpey 72), Donnelly. Subs: Sinclair-Smith, Bowers, Medina.