Early exit for Hartley after FA Cup penalty shoot-out
There'll be none of last season's FA Cup heroics for Hartley Wintney this season after they were dumped out of the competition in the Preliminary Round replay at home to Hellenic Premier League Ardley United on Tuesday 9th September. All the heroics came from Ardley goalkeeper Jack Harding, who saved Ryan Stephens' penalty in the 44th minute after a foul on Shane Hollamby and then went on to save Max Elward's spot kick in the penalty shoot out after the game had finished 0-0 after extra time.
None of last season's FA Cup heroics after being beaten in the Preliminary Round replay at home to Ardley United of the Hellenic Premier.
The game was far better than the one a week earlier, with both sides showing more energy and endeavour, though both again lacked a real cutting edge up front. Jason Palmer started at 10 after his good work coming off the bench against Holyport in the FA Vase, and he looked lively from the off. Overall Hartley edged the first half, and the breakthrough arrived just before half-time when Shane Hollamby was fouled on the edge of the 6 yard box as he tried to turn the ball in. Ryan's spot kick to the keeper's left was a little higher than he'd have wanted and was well saved.
The second half was another close-fought 45 minutes but with Ardley the dominant side and a few of Hartley's players beginning to look a little leggy. The hosts were missing the workrate and ability of Carl Saunders, out with an injury picked up in the Holyport game, but the introduction of Lukas Burt and Craig Barker did add to the energy in midfield.
As the game went on it seemed more and more likely that neither side would get the better of the opposition defence, and so we came to the lottery of penalties. Ardley took the first one and scored all their 5 with very well taken spot kicks, though Craig Atkinson was very close to getting enough on the fourth. Likewise, Craig Barker, Ryan Stephens, Ian Jones and Shane Hollamby made no mistake with very well taken penalties - and they needed to be as Jack Harding twice was finger tip away at full stretch to making a save.
So it came down to the last of the 10 regulation penalties, with Max Elward needing to score. His spot kick was well hit but a little high and Harding guessed the right way and became the night's hero. It was especially tough on Max who was once again up there for Man of the Match in my book.
Disappointing of course but a decent enough performance from the lads and I've none of the complaints I had after the first match. Ardley also played a whole lot better than the previous week and good luck to them in the next round at Slough Town. [KOB]