Lincoln United beat Stafford Rangers on penalties in their FA Trophy first qualifying round replay.
Daniel Brooks gave the Whites the lead with a penalty after 77 minutes but Rangers levelled with five minutes remaining through an unfortunate Kallum Smith own goal.
Extra time ensued but neither side could find a winner, leaving penalties to resolve the contest. United goalkeeper Sam Vince scored the decisive penalty in the shoot-out sparking scenes of jubilation from the home team’s players, coaches and fans alike.
Following the 1-1 draw between the sides at the weekend, this was a match that Dave Frecklington’s team could have done without, considering their long injury list.
After a subdued opening ten minutes, Stafford, who sit top the Evo-Stik League Division One (South), created the first opportunity of the match.
A flick on from forward Ben Haseley found his strike partner Christian Dacres who lobbed the onrushing Vince. However, Whites captain Michael Jacklin managed to hook the ball off the line.
Haseley was involved again on 19 minutes. This time the United defence misjudged the bounce of a Stafford long ball and Haseley broke through but fired wide of the left hand post.
Five minutes later, United threatened for the first time with midfielder Daniel Brooks firing a low free kick wide from 30 yards out.
Soon after, Haseley broke away down the right hand side for Rangers. Isolated one-on-one with United’s makeshift left back Kallum Smith, Haseley cut inside and managed to get a left foot shot away but dragged it just wide of the right hand post.
While Stafford were marginally on top for most of the first period, United finished the half strongly.
Andrew Toyne saw his venomous strike from 35 yards parried away by Adam Whitehouse in the Rangers goal while Thomas Batchelor was put clean though on goal but Whitehouse was out quickly to block the striker’s attempt.
However, the best chance of the half fell on the stroke of half time for Stafford midfielder Josh Craddock.
Left back Matthew Wood laid the ball back to Craddock 30 yards out and he unleashed a rising effort which crashed onto the United crossbar before being cleared away from danger.
Seven minutes into the second half, United won another free-kick in a promising position. Once again, Brooks took responsibility and drove the free-kick through the Stafford wall but Whitehouse palmed the ball away from underneath his crossbar.
However, the Whites weren’t to be denied and finally opened the scoring on 77 minutes. Winger Jordan Lemon was brought down in the penalty area by Rangers captain Wayne Daniel and the referee pointed to the spot. Set piece specialist Daniel Brooks confidently dispatched the penalty low into the bottom right hand corner.
But with five minutes of the match remaining, Stafford equalised. After a United attack broke down, Rangers broke quickly and worked the ball out to the left hand side. Left-back Matthew Wood drilled the ball low into the penalty area where United’s Kallum Smith, trying to cut out the cross, ended up diverting the ball into his own net.
Neither side could find a winner in the final few minutes meaning the match headed into extra time.
The extra 30 minutes proved to be a scrappy affair. Subsitute Lynton Karkach flashed a shot wide for the Whites while Nathan Rooney fired wide from 25 yards for Stafford as both sides searched for that all important goal.
However, it was not forthcoming and following an injury scare to referee Matthew Smith in the final few minutes of extra time, the match went to penalties.
Early in the shoot-out, Jordan Lemon missed for United while Nathan Rooney missed for Stafford. But when Jermain Johnson skied his penalty over the bar for Rangers it was left to goalkeeper Sam Vince to step up and win it for the Whites.
As everyone in the stadium held their breath, Vince drilled the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the net sending United through to the next round where they will face either Skelmersdale United or Hyde United.Tweet