The FA Cup can be cruel. A reminder of that came with 12 seconds of the 96th and final minute remaining for brave Aldershot Town, the 89th-placed club in the Football League.
In that moment came agony for a side fighting for life. A punt from Andre Bikey, Middlesbrough's central defender, was half-cleared to Emmanuel Ledesma, who clipped a through ball to Lukas Jutkiewicz. Dean Holdsworth, the Aldershot manager, said there was a foul on Sonny Bradley, his centre-half. Jutkiewicz went past Aaron Morris and hit a right-foot shot that crept into the bottom corner of Jamie Young's goal.
That Young had been outstanding added to the agony, as did the fact there was so much injury time because an assistant referee had limped off. But what really hurt was the fact they had responded to Jutkiewicz's 83rd-minute opener by equalising through the excellent Danny Hylton (his eighth FA Cup goal this season) with only two minutes of normal time left. They had felt the romance of the Cup. Less than eight minutes later came the quickie divorce.
"I felt we'd earned the replay," Holdsworth said. "We took the goal fantastically well. We had it ripped away from us at the end. We were unfortunate. I thought there was a foul on Bradley as well. Having seen it again I'm sure. I'm proud of the players. They deserved more. The challenge now is to push up the League."
The Boro manager Tony Mowbray, who is trying to sign the free agent and former Newcastle midfielder Kieron Dyer, admitted: "They came and made life difficult for us. When we scored the [first] goal, I sat there quite relieved. The goal they scored to equalise was real high quality, a great pass and a brilliant first touch from Hylton."
Middlesbrough (3-4-2-1): Steele; Hines (Leadbitter, 78), Bikey, Williams; Parnaby, Bailey, Smallwood (Halliday, 63), Reach; Emnes (Ledesma, 62), Zemmama; Jutkiewicz.
Aldershot (4-4-2): Young; Herd, Brown, Bradley, Morris; Reid (Risser, 70), Hector (Rankine, 87), Rose, Vincenti; Cadogan (Mekki, 78), Hylton.
Scorers. Middlesbrough: Jutkiewicz (83, 90) Aldershot: Hylton (89)
Referee: Andy Madley
Man of the match: Jutkiewicz (Middlesbrough)
Match rating: 5/10Reuse content