Craig Davies’ Prescot Cables side bowed out of the Emirates FA Cup but did so with their heads held high, having pushed National League North side Darlington all the way to penalties in their Second Qualifying Round match on Saturday.
The home side started strongly and had it not been for a double save from Mitch Allen in the opening ten minutes Darlington would have taken the lead.
However, the Quakers did indeed take a deserved lead on 29 minutes. A ball down the Darlington right hand side saw Paddy Staunton bested. This resulted in James Cooper being pulled out of position leaving Luke Charman unmarked in the six-yard box to power a header home.
Falling behind seemed to spring Cables into life and the visiting side were much improved for the remainder of the half. MJ Monaghan came close to levelling after some good play from Matty Corness, only to see his shot cannon back off the post. Monaghan had another good chance for Cables before the break but saw his shot deflected for a corner.
Cables’ renewed confidence saw then continue to go ‘toe to toe’ with the hosts and they were deservedly level ten minutes into the second half. Alex McMillan controlled Matty Hamilton’s pass at the second attempt and his turn and shot found the bottom corner. One all. Game on.
The hosts would restore their lead, again through Charman just after the hour mark as he slid in at the back post to convert the cross into the box. Replays seem to suggest there was more than a hint of offside to Charman’s goal.
Cables did not give up though or allow their heads to go down. They levelled again on 84 minutes from James Edgar’s penalty; MJ Monaghan was fouled by Nicky Hunt when seemingly going nowhere, Edgar took responsibility for the spot-kick duties and rifled the ball into the net. Two all. Definitely game on.
Mitch Allen was once again brilliant late on, making a good save low down to his right in the dying minutes to maintain parity.
With no replays or extra time in this season’s FA Cup, the tie then moved to a penalty shoot-out.
With the hosts missing their first, and Cables scoring their first four, the responsibility fell to Dale Korie-Butler to send the Pesky Bulls through. Darlington’s ‘keeper Jonathan Saltmer then produced a superb save to send the contest to sudden death.
Once Ethan Van Aston saw his penalty also saved, it fell to ex-Premier League stalwart Nicholas Hunt to send Darlington through.
For Cables, playing away to a team two levels higher, the outcome was heart-breaking, but there was much to be proud of.
Cables XI: Allen, Hamilton, Staunton, McCulloch, Cooper, White, Myler, Fleming (Edgar 64), McMillan (Van Aston 70), Monaghan, Corness ( Korie-Butler 55).
Man of the Match: Mitch Allen. He made a series of impressive saves throughout the game and at times had to keep Cables in the tie.
Highlights courtesy of Darlington FC