Stamford Lions suffered penalty heartbreak as they were knocked out of the PFA Senior Cup by Whittlesey Athletic on Saturday.
Two goals down at half-time, the Lions had fought back to lead 3-2 going into the final stages of the game but a late equaliser and ultimately a failed penalty shoot out cost the Stamford side a place in the quarter-finals.
The Lions came into the game with six changes from the previous weeks and, with young goalkeeper Pete Brown making his debut, boss James Sheehan left to lament another slow start from his charges.
He said: “I was bitterly disappointed with a) the first half and b) the end result.
“Every disappointing result we have had these last two months, you can look at a totally dominant second half performance from us in each game but a lack-lustre opening half-hour, again in this cup match.
“Two goals down within 11 minutes, we did well to pull it back of cause but ultimately its this start to the game that cost us.
“Pete (Brown) has played well in goal for us but, as we all know, when a keeper makes a mistake it’s normally more costly. Fair play to Whittlesey though, I wish them well in the next round.”
The changes seemed to affect the play of the Stamford side as they didn’t get started and were trailing 1-0 after only five minutes of game time, a ball played in from the left was dispatched past Brown as the marking was non-existent.
Top scorer Luke Ball then limped from the field, coming into the game carrying a knock the forward was unable to shake it off and his game was over within six minutes.
Things went from bad to worse for the Stamford side when Whittlesey extended their lead with little more than just 10 minutes played.
A bizarre goalmouth scramble ricocheted back and forth before it was stabbed home from close range as Lions failed to clear on several attempts.
Lions were struggling to get a grip of the game and were penned back as time and again they squandered possession and their attacking threat was non-existent.
After taking an early 2-0 lead, Whittlesey kept the pressure on but Lions managed to get in at half-time without suffering any further deficit.
After a reshuffle and some choice half-time words, it looked like a different side from the Lions point of view.
Shaun Sanderson headed home a Tom Edwards free kick five minutes after the restart and the comeback was on.
The Stamford side were on full attack as Dan Aust was played in but crashed his shot against the post with the keeper to beat.
Captain for the day Joe Lippett then equalised on the hour mark, again Edwards the provider as he curled in a dangerous setpiece and Lippett bravely headed home.
Ten minutes later and the Lions took the lead, Rob Forster showed excellent control as he brought down a long ball before racing past his marker and despatching a fierce strike into the bottom corner.
The visitors had turned the tide and looked to be heading to an important victory as Tom Lees had a shot saved and Jack Travers also went close to extending that lead.
But, with five minutes remaining, Whittlesey pulled out an unlikely equaliser. Goalkeeper Brown miscued a routine kick and the ball bounced off the back of Sanderson and fell straight into the path of former Deeping Rangers player Matt Heron who kindly took the gift of rolling the ball into an empty net and levelling the scores.
Lions charged forward in hope of finding a winning goal but it was in vein as a penalty shoot out followed.
After Edwards had dispatched his kick into the bottom corner, both Lees and Travers saw their efforts well saved. In contrast Whittlesey blasted in all four kicks to move into the last eight.