Spartans 17s progressed to the fourth round of the South East Region Cup with a 10-9 win on penalties against Cavalry Park 17s.
After 90 minutes the scores were locked at 2-2 so extra time was necessary. But with neither side able to score in the additional half an hour, penalties were required to decide the winner.
On a mild afternoon at Meggetland, some early hard tackles showed signs it was going to be a heated encounter.
It was, however, a slow start, with neither side really looking threatening, but after 12 minutes, Spartans took the lead with their first real chance of the game.
Daniel Wilson’s free kick from the edge of the area forced a good save from goalkeeper Craig Cockburn but the loose ball wasn’t cleared and Declan Knox pounced to fire in from five yards.
Cavalry’s Samuel Nhamburo had been the focal point of their attack so far in the game and it was the striker who set up a 25th minute equaliser for the hosts. After bursting forward down the left-hand side, he beat his man to the touchline and drilled the ball across goal to Jack O’Meara who tapped the ball in at the back post.
Just before the break, Nhamburo almost grabbed a goal himself with a drilled shot from outside the box, but it was well smothered by Blair Dodds in the Spartans goal.
Straight after half-time the visitors surged forward and after winning a corner they made the most of the opportunity. The ball came into the area and wasn’t cleared by the hosts, leaving substitute Christopher Bendyk with the simple task of finishing from five yards.
Spartans had resumed the better of the two sides after the interval but Bendyk’s goal brought about a Cavalry resurgence and they pulled the scores level once again ten minutes after conceding.
Bernard Dobrowolski latched on to a long forward ball deep into the Spartans half. After taking the ball down well, he hit a hopeful half-volley from the edge of the box which completely deceived Dodds and crept just under the crossbar.
With 20 minutes to go, the game really opened up as both sides pushed forward in numbers, keen to win the game. The best chance for Spartans fell to Callum Wales who received a cross in the area before rushing the shot and blazing over.
Straight back down the other end, Cavalry could have immediately capitalised on the away side’s spurned opportunity. Substitute Cameron Sweeney had made an immediate impact after coming on, and he sent a cross into Milosz Pajak which the latter headed wide of the mark.
Out of the blue, and just before the end of the game, both sides were reduced to ten men after two players came together in an off-the-ball incident.
Cavalry and Spartans’ attacking and entertaining football merited a place in for both the next round, but with the scores tied at 90 minutes the match moved into extra time.
All eyes looked to the referee when, five minutes into the additional period, Nhamburo was brought down in the Spartans’ 18-yard area. Despite huge shouts from the touchline, the penalty claim was dismissed and play continued.
Up at the other end, Spartans’ Ousman Bajo was slotted through down the left flank but, after he cut inside to shoot, he stalled which allowed Cockburn to get down and intercept the ball.
With neither Cavalry nor Spartans able to score a winning goal in extra time it was to be penalties to decide who would progress.
After each team had converted nine penalties, Spartans’ debutant Declan Patterson fired in his side’s tenth spot-kick leaving Cavalry’s Nicholas Humphreys needing to score.
The substitute hit a decent strike to Dodds’ right-hand side but the keeper did well to get down low and palm the ball out to send his side through to the next round.
Cavalry Park 17s: Calum Paterson, Keith Hogg, Milosz Pajak, Daniel Mullins, Nicholas Humphreys, Gregor Young, Jason Scott, Samuel Nhamburo, Kyle Dixon, Craig Cockburn, Cameron Sweeney, Kamil Sitowski, Connor Holleran, Corey Robertson, Jack O’Meara, Bernard Dobrowolski, Rowan Fife.
Spartans 17s: Blair Dodds, Daniel Wilson, Connor Taylor, Gabes Hill, Gregor Jack, Ousman Bajo, Christopher Williamson, Christopher Bendyk, Callum Wales, Lawrie Francey, Dylan Russell, Coner Purvis, Declan Knox, Declan Patterson, Callum Hattersly.