Conditions: 17 degrees. Mild.
Preparations for the game were thrown into chaos as Fruit and Veg legend David Goffin's trusty (maybe not) van broke down en route to the game. Fortunately Chairman Cliff Emberlin was following behind and managed to rescue Ben Foster and Neil Shelley. Goff stayed with his beloved broken vehicle like a captain with a sinking ship!
One bit of bad luck for David Goffin was good luck for Lewis Summer as he was thrust into the team for his debut at centre back. Only other notable absentees were Jamel Hanson, John Boddy and Jack Larkham from the outfield players. In goal Rich Smith was unavailable as his agent had double booked him for a Richard O'Brien look-a-like competition in Skegness. In stepped Jon Seymour.
The game started off evenly but Slade eventually got a grip of the game by staying disciplined to the formation. In fact some of the ball retention in the first half was excellent. There was only one notable chance in the first 30 minutes when the 6 yard box Predator Karl Boffey brought an excellent save out of the East Grinstead goalkeeper when a goal looked likely.
Slade opened the scoring in the 35th minute when Nathan Cook robbed the centre back near the half-way line. He bore down on goal at speed and swept the ball low into the corner. 1-0 to Portslade and an immediate substation for the East Grinstead centre-back who was caught out! Slade played the half out in the same fashion and went into the break looking solid.
Slade started the second half like they finished it and were shortly two goals up when Nathan Cook slipped a lovely ball into Sean Trend, who had made a great run. Petal ran the ball in from about 15 yards before unleashing a low shot which squirmed under the keeper. 2-0 !!
East Grinstead then changed their formation and went 3-up front and played a bit more direct. Initially this didn't look like being a problem as the defence was looking solid. However, Slade caused their own problems in the box and East Grinstead scrambled home a goal. 61 minutes played and 2-1 !
In the 75 minute Slade conceded again. East Grinstead managed to get a man over on their left hand side and the ball was played into the 6 yard box before being swept in past Jon Seymour. 2-2
There wasn't a lot more goal mouth action in the remaining minutes as the game went into extra time. The match was evenly balanced and perfectly poised for someone to nick the tie. Slade thought they'd given themselves a great chance to advance into the next round in the 102nd minute. Those two men again combined as Nathan Cook found another lovely deep run by Sean Trend. The skipper opened his body up as if to put the ball in the far corner but drilled it low in the near post. Great finish. 3-2!
The lead didn't last long though as East Grinstead gained a debatable free-kick 30 yards out. The East Grinstead free kick taker hit a curling shot which was too hot to handle and the ball was poked home. 3-3
Slade were tiring and that showed when Neil Shelley had a chance to turn his nickname into Brazilian Bison - from just a standard Bison. He dummied two players in the box, then went to unleash a bullet with this left peg. It didn't quite work out that way as the ball touched his standing foot and he completely missed the ball and fell over, causing a tremor that was felt by Rich Smith in Skegness. What a goal that would have been!
The game went into a dreaded penalty shoot out. The last time Portslade Athletic won on penalties was in 1921 when a teenage Terry Colburn had invented what we now call the "Pirlo Penalty" in the famous shoot out against arch rivals Portslade United.
Unfortunately this statistic wasn't put to bed and the wait continues as Marc Sutton and Jacob Everett were the unlucky players to miss. Kudos to all the brave players who stepped up - especially as our two main penalty takers were off the field.
Man of the Match was debutant Lewis Summer who played superbly at centre back. alongside an equally impressive Tom Ryan. Unbelievably this was his first game in 18 months, so to put in a performance like this for 120 mins was nothing short of excellent.
Seymour 2. Ryan 3. Dudek 4. Collins 5. Summer 6. Trend © 7. Cook 8. Shelley 9. Boffey 10. Sutton 11. Everett. SUBS: 12 Munsarum 14. Foster