Eight-man Codicote triumph in cup thriller against Welwyn Garden City
PUBLISHED: 10:59 20 February 2014 | UPDATED: 11:42 20 February 2014
Arsenal versus Bayern Munich took a back seat on Wednesday night as Welwyn Garden City and Codicote played out a truly enthralling Challenge Trophy second round tie.
While The Gunners were on their way to a 2-0 Champions League defeat at The Emirates, down at Herns Lane there were eight goals, three red cards, a saved penalty, and ultimately, a shoot-out victory for eight-man Codicote.
The attendance was invariably affected by the north London side being in action, but for those who did attend, they were treated to a real feast of action.
The score was tied at 4-4 after 90 minutes and extra-time, and it was the Cod who kept their nerve to win the penalty shoot-out 4-3.
The undoubted star of the show was Codicote frontman Kane Dougherty, who bagged all four of his side’s goals, as well as netting his spot-kick, but teammate goalkeeper Billy Barnes ran him close with a string of unbelievable saves.
Codicote took the lead in the sixth minute; player/manager Liam Errington’s free-kick into the box was punched straight to Dougherty by WGC custodian Freddie Hester, and he made no mistake as he chipped the ball home from 15 yards.
Only six minutes later, WGC were awarded a penalty after the referee adjudged Joel Norris to have been fouled in the area in a melee with opposition defenders.
Worse was to come for Codicote, as Connor De Lacy was shown a straight red for words said to the referee after pointing to the spot.
But Barnes came to the rescue for the visitors as he saved Paul Taylor’s penalty.
Barnes went on to make a string of fine saves to deny Jason Caswell, Issac Oppong and Norris, before the visitors went on to extend their lead.
Great work out wide from ex-Royston man Josh Bronti saw the ball fed into Dougherty some 20 yards out.
Spotting WGC keeper Hester slightly off his line, and WGC defenders allowing him far too much space, he took a touch before expertly chipping the ball home.
Superb one-on-one saves from Barnes to deny Caswell on a couple of occasions and then Norris maintained the visitors’ lead, and things got even better when a minute before the break, Dougherty completed his hat-trick as he poked home after another Bronti assist.
Citizens’ boss Adam Fisher no doubt gave his side the third degree at half-time, and nine minutes into the second period, his troops responded.
Norris played a defence-splitting pass through and this time Caswell made no mistake as he rounded Barnes and prodded home.
It was game-on in the 64th minute when WGC brought it back to 3-2 when Norris, collecting the ball just inside the box on the left-hand side, drove forward and blasted an effort inside the near post.
WGC were now firmly in the ascendancy, but in Barnes, they found a keeper in mesmerising form, perhaps hard to believe when conceding four goals, but totally accurate.
A fine reflex doube-save denied Norris and Oppong, but Codicote looked dangerous on the counter with Dougherty, Bronti and Sam Stephenson causing the WGC backline all sorts of problems.
The clocked ticked over the 90-minute mark, and just when it seemed a battling display would see Codicote through, WGC substitute Afful Yeboah flicked in a near post header for 3-3 and extra-time beckoned.
Not before Codicote received their second red card however - the referee believing Stephenson reacted aggresively as the sides clashed in the goalmouth following the late equaliser, and the away side were down to nine.
With both sides quite rightly tiring, formations became ragged, and it was WGC who capitalised on this when substitute Ben Awad found himself in acres of space on the left flank, cut inside, drew the keeper out and fired home.
Only a minute later Yeboah hit the bar with an audacious effort from a 30-yard free-kick as the hosts turned the screw.
Codicote’s job, already hard enough with nine men, bordered on impossible when three minutes into the second period, captain Mark Bryant was shown a second yellow card to reduce them to eight.
But on this night, nothing seemed impossible for Liam Errington’s men, and evidently to Dougherty, who curled in a sublime free-kick from 20-yard to level this thriller at 4-4, and penalties would separate the two rivals.
Yeboah, Caswell and Craig Arnott, playing against his former club all netted from the spot for WGC, with Paul Donnelly, Dougherty and John Chitondo also successful meaning the scores were locked at 3-3.
WGC’s Juan Cifuentes stepped up only to see Barnes save his penalty, and then the Codicote stopper turned striker to hammer his own spot-kick past Hester.
Awad had to score from the spot to keep WGC in the tie, but a good night got even better for Codicote keeper Barnes as he dived low and right to deny the City man, and with it send Codicote into the third round where they will host SSML Division Two outfit Willen on March 8.
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