Deeping United are beaten on penalties in the Lincolnshire Junior Cup by Wyberton
Joint manager Ian Abbott felt 'proud as punch' of his Deeping United players after they took Lincolnshire League side Wyberton to the wire on Saturday.
The Peterborough League Division Five side were eventually beaten on penalties in the Lincolnshire Junior Cup clash at Linchfield Road after the match had ended 1-1 following extra-time.
But Abbott was delighted with the effort and application of his side against a Wyberton team who are among one of the favourites to win the competition.
He said: "We had a couple of key players missing and I certainly had my reservations going into the match because Wyberton are a quality side who are unbeaten in their league this season.
"We set up to make life very difficult for them because we knew that if we gave them time on the ball then they would smash us.
"But the work-rate, effort and how we followed the on-field instructions was spot on. I was proud as punch of the players."
With the main pitch at Linchfield Road waterlogged, the match was played on the smaller side pitch which allowed United to contain their visitors in the opening half.
Wyberton had the strong wind in their favour in the first period and, although they enjoyed plenty of possession, they struggled to break Deeping down.
They were also met by an inspired Nick Merryweather when they did breach the Deeping ranks as the United goalkeeper produced a string of fine saves to keep the score goalless at the break.
Deeping came more into the game after the break with Adam Sparkes' performance pushing Merryweather close for the man-of-the-match plaudits and their confidence started to grow as the match progressed.
But neither side were able to break the deadlock during the 90 minutes and the match went into extra-time.
Wyberton then finally found a breakthrough in the second period of extra-time as Deeping's defensive discipline was undone from a throw-in which was flicked on and evaded everybody to nestle in the home net.
Deeping rallied though and refused to be rattled by the setback as they forced an equaliser with just two minutes remaining.
Ryan Ellwood latched onto a through ball and was then brought down in the penalty area by Wyberton goalkeeper James Doughty.
Doughty - who had played for Holbeach United against Blackstones last midweek - was cautioned for the foul and then kicked the ball away which prompted a second yellow card and a sending off.
Conor Barton - who had enjoyed a fine game as a holding midfielder - then stepped forward to take on the penalty-taking responsibilities and duly converted the resultant spot kick to send the tie into a shoot-out.
Deeping converted their first three penalties through Steve Christmas, Ellwood and Barton, but were unable to make the most of Wyberton's first miss.
Steve Jucikas and Leandro Silva didn't make their advantage count as their misses were matched by two successful Wyberton strikes as the visitors claimed a 4-3 shoot-out success.
Abbott added: "Every single one of my players put a real shift in. This performance has set the benchmark for our games this season."
Deeping are in cup action again on Saturday when they host Division Two side Thorpe Wood Rangers in the Peterborough League Cup competition.
United: Merryweather, Raven, Silva, Christmas, Barton, Kent, Snowden, Sparkes, Smith (Danowski), Jucikas, Ellwood. Subs not used: Goddon, Wyer.
More by this authorJames Bedford