Garforth 1 Staveley MW 1 (Staveley win 7-6 on penalties)
By Andrew Marsh
Mark Simpson was on target with a first half goal, but a brave performance from The Miners in this epic League Cup tie wasn't enough to prevent ten-man Staveley progressing into the Quarter Finals.
With Michael Thompson, Dan Williams, Sean Hunter and Sam Barker all cup-tied, manager Rob Hunter was forced to ring the changes. Charlie Marshall made his first start for the club and there was a debut for new signing Matthew Wilkinson. Mark Simpson and Curtly Martin-Wyatt were named as our front two and there was a return to the first eleven for midfielder Billy Lumsden.
In an entertaining first half, Staveley produced the first chance of the evening two mins in when Sam Kay's fierce shot was tipped over the bar by Toby Wells after a right wing delivery was only half-cleared. On ten minutes Joe Pugh was inches away from connecting at the far post with captain Sam Finlaw's cross. Despite this, Garforth went ahead only a minute later. Curtly Martin-Wyatt's cross from the right was cleared off the line into the path of Mark Simpson who half volleyed past Trojans keeper Myles Wright for his 90th club goal and first since return from injury. Town arguably should have made it two on 19 mins when the striker raced clear with only Wright to beat, but fired inches wide of the far post.
That said, this was much better from Town who's pace going forward made a refreshing change from recent performances. Alex Low rifled narrowly off-target on 23 mins when a free-kick was cleared on the edge of the box, before a Simpson turn and shot was straight at Wright. All that was undone however on 34 mins when The Miners conceded a third penalty in as many matches; Declan Greene penalised for a push on Pugh. The visitors' top scorer stepped up himself and sent Wells the wrong way to even up the tie.
In a scrappier second half, Wells kept out of the bottom corner Robson Doolan's low strike on 51 mins, then Greene deflected wide a powerful strike from Kay. On 65 mins Billy Lumsden's corner was cleared off the line by a Staveley defender amid claims of handball which went unanswered by referee Daniel Bennett. Two minutes later we were handed an advantage when Ryan Herbert was sent off for a high challenge on Simpson. Red cards have certainly become a theme on Staveley's visits to the Bannister Prentice Stadium, this being their fourth in three meetings.
Playing against ten men has however been a struggle for Town in recent months and this was to go the same way, as our failure to find our front men helped the visitors to defy their predicament and, if not find the winning goal, finish the ninety minutes the better side. Charlie Oglesby was unlucky to see his header from a right wing cross strike the upright on 70 mins, then on 83 mins Kay brought a brilliant reaction save from Wells. Good work by Lee Turner moments later saw Matthew Wilkinson in with a good chance, but with his back to goal it was a difficult take for the midfielder who brought a save from Wright at the near post. With neither side able to find the winner, the tie went into extra time.
A flowing move between Martin-Wyatt and Turner saw Charlie Marshall in with a chance on 96 mins, but his effort was well over the bar. Wells again kept Town in the game three minutes later; denying Pugh with his feet after racing clear. Back down the other end, Martin-Wyatt's header over the last defender almost set up substitute Helmo Silva, but the ball just wouldn't fall for the midfielder, allowing Wright to claim.
Into the second period, Wells denied Finlaw's low shot at the near post, before great work by a tireless Silva down the other end played in fellow sub Mitch Hamilton who's shot was over the bar. Martin-Wyatt was sent racing clear by Hamilton in the dying moments, but the offside flag was raised. After 120 mins of football, the two sides couldn't be parted, meaning the tie would be settled by penalties.
Seasoned Garforth fans will recall the last occasion a match ended in this manner, this being our Evo-Stik League North Division Play-Off Semi-Final defeat at Curzon Ashton back in April 2012. Much time has passed since those heady days, but sadly this one too was to end in heartbreak.
Things initially started well though for Rob Hunter's side, who opted to go first at the former "Tesco End". Martin-Wyatt went first and made no mistake, before Wells dived the right way to keep out Finlaw's effort for the visitors (1-0). Turner then stepped up, but could only strike the crossbar. Staveley took full advantage to level proceedings with Kay converting his (1-1). Bingley then found the net to erase the ghosts of Penistone away last month, then Wells handed us the advantage once more, saving from Matthew Parkin. Sadly the scores were soon level again when Hamilton let his teammates down with an attempted party-trick chip which was easily claimed, and opponent Matthew Davies duly converted (2-2). For a while after the two sides were deadlocked; strikes by Low, Lumsden, James Beaston and Silva matched by those from Pugh, Jordan Claxton, Brad Jones, and Oglesby (6-6). Now in "sudden death", Greene stepped up for The Miners, but he was left with his head in his hands when Wright guessed the right way to make the save. The Trojans keeper duly picked up the ball, placed it on the spot and fired into the net to spark celebrations among the visiting players and supporters who deservedly host Worksop Town in the next round. A cruel way for us to go out of the competition after what was a spirited display, but it was ever thus with penalty shootouts, and our search for a first win since 5th January goes on.
We return to league action this Saturday when Maltby Main are the visitors (kick-off 3pm).
Thoughts on last night's game from our manager can be found on the Bootiful Game.