In an incredible cup-tie, Hucknall Sunday champions T8’S scrambled into the semi-finals despite being reduced to EIGHT men after receiving THREE red cards.
Matt Peberday, Aaron Ryan and Kyle McDermott were all sent off in T8’s NOTTS SUNDAY MORNING LEAGUE, Premier Section Cup quarter-final at home to Wollaton Pirates.
But somehow they survived and held on to a 1-1 draw after extra-time to take the tie to a penalty shootout that they won 4-3.
Wollaton hail from a division below T8’s. But they had knocked Reece Jackson’s team out of the same competition last season to reach the final, where they were defeated by Nuthall, and are currently sitting pretty for promotion from Premier Division One.
It soon became clear the visitors would again be a tough nut to crack, as T8’s looked a yard off the pace after four weeks without a match.
In a boring first half, the only chance of note was a header from highly-rated centre-back Danny Hayes.
But the second half came to life in no uncertain terms when the pitch started to cut up, the tackles started to fly in and a mass brawl broke out in the 55th minute.
After the dust had settled, the referee dismissed a player from each side, including Peberday for T8’s -- only eight days after he had also been sent off for his Saturday side, Linby Colliery Welfare.
The home side made most of the extra space, creating chances for fit-again striker Jack Allen and Andy Start.
But their prospects took another hit when reduced to nine men after midfielder Ryan had received a second yellow ten minutes from the end of normal time.
As the tie continued goalless into extra-time, T8’s still edged it and finally broke the stalemate when awarded a penalty after substitute Allen had been brought down.
Even that was tinged with drama, however, because although Start tucked away the kick, it had to be re-taken after the angry Wollaton manager ran on to the pitch!
The striker kept his cool to fire into the opposite corner -- and from then on, the locals defended with huge resilience to try and preserve their lead.
Goalkeeper Jake Pearson made a fantastic save, only for T8’s to suffer another blow when McDermott became their third man to see red -- this time for diving after he had seemed to be upended by the Wollaton ‘keeper as he raced through on goal.
The goalie later admitted to the ref that he had clipped McDermott, so it is to be hoped that the dismissal will be rescinded. But his gesture came too late to prevent a Wollaton equaliser with the last kick of extra-time -- Liam Honeyman finding the net.
So, it all came down to the shootout and although Greg Conn converted T8’s first, the normally reliable Start missed the second. Thankfully, the visitors also fluffed a couple, meaning that superb penalties from Billy Brooks, Aaron Short and Hayes were enough to send T8’s into the last four.
T8’S LINE-UP (4-4-2) -- Pearson J./ Conn, Hayes, Peberday, Short/ Davies N., Brooks, Murray, McDermott/ Bettridge, Start A. Subs: Allen J., Ryan, Mann.