Football: FA Cup - Northampton cobble together shoot-out victory

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The Independent Online
Basingstoke Town 0

Northampton Town 0

after extra time

Northampton win 4-3 on penalties

Non-League Basingstoke took Northampton the distance and then some more before losing by the lottery of penalty kicks to their lofty Second Division rivals in this FA Cup second-round replay at the Camrose Ground last night.

An away tie against Premiership club Leicester City was worth going that extra yard to both clubs - it was Basingstoke's 19th cup tie of the season - and the Cobblers could count themselves lucky to have squeezed home against a side 83 rungs below them on football's ladder.

There were times, particularly in the second half, when one had to wonder which side was the full professional club.

As Ernie Howe, the former Fulham defender who manages the Ryman League side, said: "We couldn't have asked for more from a bunch of part-timers. They had a full practice session on Monday night and played another two hours tonight against League opposition and we looked just as fit as them. We've done the town proud."

Howe expressed his sympathy for the young substitute Chris Ferrett who had volunteered to take one of the penalties, but in the event missed with his kick as did Nigel Emsden.

In the first half it had seemed that penalties could be the only possible outcome to a match in which neither side, on a bitterly cold evening and a hard frosty surface, could muster a decent shot between them.

Considering how much possession Northampton had, that was hard to believe.

Ian Atkins' team may boast a defensive record bettered only by the leaders, Watford, in the Second Division but it has been at some cost to the rest of their game and it was not difficult to see why only two clubs have scored fewer goals than them.

Coincidentally, it was against Northampton that Basingstoke first made their bow in the competition proper in 1970 when they lost 5-1 at home. But there was little danger of a repetition of that scoreline this time.

Indeed, Basingstoke grew in confidence after the first half and were often the more dangerous side as their breakaways grew in frequency. Twice in the space of seven minutes in the second half two of their players, Alan Carey and Paul Wilkinson, found themselves perfectly placed to score, but Northampton quickly closed them down on the second occasion, David Brightwell showing some of that speed off the mark which was the hallmark of his Olympian father, Robbie, in order to do so.

Both sides threatened to win the game without recourse to penalties, but in the final analysis their finishing each time betrayed them. But Basingstoke can feel proud of coming so close to adding the scalp of Northampton to that of Wycombe Wanderers in the last round.

Basingstoke Town (5-2-3): Beale; Morley (O'Neill, h-t), Harris, Barker, Richardson, Emsden; Wilkinson, Tydeman (Ferrett, 120); Coombs, Mancey, Carey (Huxford, 102). Substitutes not used: Drake, Line.

Northampton Town (4-4-2): Woodman; Clarkson, Hall, Brightwell, Frain; Peer, Gibb (Warner, 98), Hunt (Seal, 79), Hunter; Heggs, Gayle. Substitutes not used: Colkin, Wilson, Turley (gk).

Referee: D Orr (Iver, Bucks).