Football FA Cup: Bent shatters Diamonds in shoot-out

FA CUP THIRD-ROUND REPLAYS: Exeter take Toffees to limit as Sheffield United rely on penalties to defeat non-League Rushden

Rushden & Diamonds 1 Sheffield United 1

(Score at 90 mins 0-0; Sheff Utd win 6-5 on pens)

SIMON TRACEY, the Sheffield United goalkeeper, found the perfect way to atone for gifting Rushden & Diamonds their extra-time equaliser in last night's third-round FA Cup replay at chilly Nene Park. His save from Jon Brady in the penalty shootout followed by Marcus Bent's successful spot-kick, earned the First Division stragglers a fourth-round trip to Tottenham or Newcastle.

After a barren 90 minutes, the tie burst into life as the additional half hour approached its midway point. Shaun Derry fired United in front from Paul Devlin's pass in the 103rd minute, the ball going in off the Nationwide Conference club's captain, Ray Warburton, as he tried to clear.

Yet within two minutes, the South Yorkshire-born Warburton materialised in the opposite six-yard area to head a captain's goal after Tracey unaccountably fumbled a Brady corner. In the spot-kick lottery which ensued, the first 10 players to step up all found the net with ease.

Then, ironically, it fell to Brady, the scorer of Rushden's riposte in the first meeting, to fail from the 12-yard mark. Doubly so, since it was Tracey who had also erred to allow the Australian his goal at Bramall Lane, who now parried his kick to safety. Bent then sealed United's victory by despatching the ball beyond Billy Turley, whose penalty save 10 days earlier had given the non-Leaguers their second chance.

Turley was entitled to feel hard done by, having given a massively assured performance over the two games. Not that Rushden, who stand second in the Conference, ever came under concerted pressure, for United were unable to maintain their momentum after Turley tipped Devlin's fifth-minute drive from 22 yards on to and over his bar.

United's new manager, Neil Warnock, had presided over two League victories either side of the original stalemate. This, however, was an evening to disabuse him of any complacency. The Northamptonshire club's manager, Brian Talbot, said afterwards: "It was very, very cruel. We are so disappointed but I couldn't possibly have asked any more from my lads. You wouldn't have known there were supposed to be three divisions between the teams."

Warnock, who is well acquainted with the quality of the Conference having led Scarborough to promotion more than a decade ago, suggested that defeat might prove a blessing for Rushden in the long run. "Going out at this stage is the best thing that could have happened to them," he said. "It will help them concentrate on getting into the League. With the players they've got, and such a superb set-up, they must get there as soon as possible."

On a pristine pitch, the Diamonds matched the Blades thrust for thrust, though neither could find a cutting edge during the first 90 minutes. Rushden's David Town wasted two chances in the first half, while Derry forced an outstanding save from Turley with just three minutes of normal time remaining.

Sadly for Talbot and the vast majority of the 6,000 crowd, the pounds 130,000 keeper from Northampton had left his penalty-saving skills in Yorkshire. But if Rushden's goal did not remain intact to the end, the same could not be said of their dignity.

Rushden & Diamonds (4-4-2): Turley; Wooding, Rodwell, Warburton, Underwood; Brady, McElhatton, Butterworth, Burgess (Hamsher, 119); Town (Desouza, 65), Collins. Substitutes not used: Heggs, Mison, Mark Smith (gk).

Sheffield United (4-4-2): Tracey; Kozluk, Murphy, Sandford, Quinn; Devlin, Derry, Woodhouse, Hunt (Katchouro,79); Martin Smith (Hamilton, 104), Bent. Substitutes not used: Gysbrechts, Doane, Duke (gk).

Referee: B Knight (Orpington).

Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders