FC United are through to the quarter-finals of the Frank Hannah Manchester Premier Cup after beating Radcliffe Borough 4-2 on penalties following a pulsating 2-2 draw inside 90 minutes.
Jack Lenehan scored the decisive spot-kick to send the Reds through after Nialle Rodney and Michael Donohue had bagged the goals in normal time at Stainton Park.
The home team twice came from behind in a competitive cup tie, but the Reds maintained a run which has seen them unbeaten in this competition since November 2015.
Neil Reynolds made wholesale changes from Saturday’s victory at Stalybridge and it did take a bit of time for the players to really gel together, but both teams found the first half more of a feeling out process than anything else.
The second half turned into everything you’d expect from a local derby cup tie. FC found themselves in front for the first time on the evening just seven minutes into the second half, with Rodney showing why many FC fans were excited for his signing as he broke free of the defence and showed great composure to fire home.
But the home team fought back; quite literally with some of the tackling, and found themselves level just 10 minutes later thanks to Ben Wharton who had only replaced FC United legend Matthew Wolfenden a minute earlier.
Going into the final quarter of the game it really was up in the air and either team could have made an argument for the win. After a dangerous FC attack, the Reds found themselves with a free-kick, just outside the Radcliffe box. Alex Curran saw his effort rattle the post before Donohue reacted quickly in the box to knock the rebound home.
With 10 minutes left, Radcliffe came forward looking to get back into the game. Liam Ellis rose and headed home at the far post in the 81st minute for a deserved equaliser.
Both teams had chances, tackles and bookings in the last 10 minutes, but neither could find a way through and the game went to the lottery of penalties.
After Radcliffe had fired their first one home and Donohue had levelled for FC, the home team made the first error with a penalty that went high and wide and would have tested the double glazing on the houses surrounding the ground.
FC United went perfect with their next two penalties from Curran and Griffiths, before Cameron Belford produced a super stop to put FC one converted penalty away from victory.
Lenehan was the player given the responsibility and duly put the penalty away to put FC into the next round. FC United will await the draw to find out their opponents in the quarter-final, which will be played in mid-November.
The Reds now welcome Buxton, who beat Grantham 7-0 at home on Tuesday, for their first win of the season, to Broadhurst Park on Saturday for the first meeting between the two teams since a pair of FA Cup games in 2015.
Website man of the match: Cameron Belford. Lots of positives in terms of players performances on the evening, but goalkeepers become goalkeepers to be the hero in a penalty shootout, and Belford did that this evening.