Woodley United exited the Hellenic League BlueFin Sports Challenge cup in dramatic fashion that required eighteen penalties to decide who advanced to round three after four goals had been shared in the ninety minutes. Those ninety minutes also saw three penalties awarded all of which were initially saved only for one to be retaken as Woodley keeper Adam Thomson was adjudged to have been off his line the moment the ball was kicked.
Windsor were pointless and goalless after their three opening games to the season, but after sixteen minutes Jake Sobalak gave the Royalists the lead with a strike from twenty five yards that would be contender for goal of the day in any competition.
United nearly equalised within a minute of the restart when Toby Briggs showed good work before his goal bound shot was diverted of the goal line for a corner and then put wide from the resulting corner kick.
The equaliser came on the half hour when good play by Sam Guze set up Ed Thomas who calmly slotted the ball past Windsor’s Sonny Wheeler when one on one.
With the half time score looking to be level, Woodley defender Conor Clarke was penalised in the forty fourth minute for handball when he turned side wards, arm down to protect himself from a shot but as the ball brushed his arm a penalty was awarded. To make matter worse the defender was booked for deliberately moving his arm into the flight of the ball!
Facing Windsor’s Andy Ingram, man of the match Thomson dived to his left to push the kick away and then reacted quickest to smoother the ball to keep the score one all.
Woodley had an opportunity to take the lead on fifty nine minutes when Ben Okon fouled Thomas but Wheeler dived to his left to deny Guze from the penalty spot and Freddie Barron but the rebound over the cross bar. However, two minutes later Thomas did give the hosts the lead when he shot pass Wheeler following a good run and pass from Briggs.
With seventeen minutes remaining Pele Hagger fouled Okon and received his second yellow card to leave the hosts to play the match out with ten men. A reorganisation of the defence saw Jon Malone drop into centre back and Bailey Hill move to Hagger’s left back position and while Windsor pushed forwarded United looked secure with ten players until the eighty sixth minute.
Windsor thought they had levelled only for the goal to be disallowed as Malone was adjudged to have handled the ball which had deflected off his arm on the way into the net. Thomson dived to his left pushing Adam Kirby’s kick beyond the upright only to be penalised for not being on his goal line. Kirby made no mistake with the retake to level the score two all.
With no further goals and no extra time the tie was to be decided by penalty kicks.
Windsor won the toss to kick first and both teams scored on their opening attempt. Thomson saved to his right to deny Windsor’s second with Wheeler doing likewise with United’s second kick. Both teams scored on their third and fourth kicks and with Windsor converting their five kick it was left to Dave Stevens to score and force sudden death, which he just did with the ball trickling over the line despite Kirby getting a hand to it. The penalty kick score was level at four all which became five all despite Thomson getting a leg to Windsor’s sixth kick but being unable to prevent the ball hitting the net.
Thomson saved Windsor’s seventh kick to his left only to be cautioned for his celebration while United’s seventh rebounded off the upright, despite the keeper being off his line and no retake, to level the scores still level at five apiece. Both teams scored a sixth penalty resulting in a ninth kick being required. Windsor converted theirs with Wheeler saving to his right to give the visitors a seven – six win on penalty kicks.