GFA Junior County Cup rd 3

Minchinhampton FC 3

Andoversford FC 3

(Minch win 5-4 on pens)

JOSH BUTTON kept his cool from the penalty spot as Minchinhampton won the shootout to move into the GFA Junior County Cup quarter-finals, writes Mark Cox.

Minch rocked a previously unbeaten Andoversford, who sit at the top of Cheltenham & District Football League Division 1.

Earlier, Minch started brightly without really troubling the Andoversford goal, but it was the visitors who almost struck first when a rasping shot struck the crossbar.

Undeterred, Minch took the lead when Toby Gardiner fed Jack Hornsby, who scampered on to the ball and slid his shot past the onrushing keeper and into the net.

On the half-hour mark, Andoversford pressure paid off when the dangerous Ashley Cleal held off his marker and cut inside before curling a great shot across Kieran Hart in the Minchinhampton goal.

A nervous period ensued with Minch indebted to a fine defensive effort with Riki Noble and Ollie Osborne-Shill both outstanding.

Andoversford took the lead after the break when a loose ball was back heeled into the net by Ryan Cleal.

Andoversford extended their lead after a fine point-blank save from Kieran Hart and then the loose ball hacked off the line by Tom Beard, but Jake Berry was alive to head home. Andoversford then flooded forward and thought they had extended their lead, but the striker had strayed into an offside position as he prodded the ball home on the line.

In disarray, Minch were looking for a break and this came 20 minutes from time when a poor clearance from the keeper was returned with interest with Toby Gardiner picking up the ball and lobbing the keeper from 40 yards out. This proved to be the catalyst as the belief returned to the home side and the flow of the match turned.

Jack Hornsby now reinvigorated and playing on the shoulder of the last man was twice deterred by close offside decisions. Then with ten minutes left on the watch parity was restored when Ollie Portlock's free-kick was flicked on by Toby Gardiner for Tom Beard to calmly sit the keeper down and dink the ball over him and into the net. Now with the visitors heads down there looked to be only one winner and as Hornsby raced clear and was felled in the penalty box, the whistle went, but not for a penalty, but for full-time and penalties.

Penalties saw Tom Beard's first effort for Minch saved before Ollie Portlock, Natty Buckland and Hornsby all netting, leaving Andoversford who had scored all of their spot kicks with the fifth one to win the match, but Billy Frewin put his shot over the bar to keep Minch in the contest. Phil Ellis stepped up to try to take the penalties into sudden death and this he did with a thunderous effort clipping the crossbar before firing into the net. Time for a hero and up stepped keeper, Kieran Hart, and he guessed right to pull off a fantastic save to deny Jake Berry, leaving Josh Button to step forward to smash home his penalty kick and send the home side into rapturous celebrations and into the quarter-finals.

Huge credit to the management team of Natty Buckland and James Crowest, who are working wonders with a squad stretched to the limits and they were delighted to award the Minchinhampton man-of-the-match to goalkeeper, Kieran Hart.