Bexhill United Football Club held its nerve to win a penalty shoot-out last night (Tuesday).
The Pirates prevailed 4-2 on spot-kicks after their Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One Challenge Cup first round tie away to Hailsham Town had finished 1-1 at the end of normal and extra-time.
Bexhill goalkeeper Dan Rose saved Hailsham’s third and fourth penalties, pulling off a brilliant stop from the third, while Bexhill scored all four of their kicks through Craig Ottley, Gordon Cuddington, Connor Robertson and lastly Kenny Butchers.
Bexhill manager Ryan Light said: “I’m always quite confident with us on penalties. I think we’ve got some good penalty takers.”
The visitors started well and Light felt they produced some of their best football of the season between the 15 and 30-minute marks. One particular move contained around 18 passes.
Bexhill opened the scoring in the 25th minute. Ottley, playing against his former club, got past his man on the left and his driven cross from near the byeline deflected in off a Hailsham defender.
Light, who gave a debut to dual registered Hastings United young midfielder Curtis Beale, felt his team edged the first half and praised the ‘phenomenal’ workrate of his players.
The second half was a bit more open. Rose pulled off two fantastic saves from one-on-one situations, as well as an unbelievable stop from a header at a corner.
Bexhill fashioned two very good chances of their own. Corey Wheeler failed to get enough meat on his shot from a Wayne Giles cross when he really should’ve scored and Cuddington missed the target following a cross from the left.
Hailsham equalised with four minutes to go. A corner to the post was acrobatically sent back into the six yard area by Peter Cooper and Sam Divall headed in from a yard.
That meant the tie went to extra-time and there was no further scoring during the additional half-hour, although Light felt Bexhill were the fitter side and the more likely winners.
In the end they got through on penalties to set up a second round trip to bottom-of-the-table Southwick on a date to be announced.
Bexhill: Rose; Robertson, McGuigan (Cornelius), McFarlane, Ottley; Gouet (Wheeler), Holden, Beale, Cuddington, Butchers; Harffey (Giles).