Paulton Rovers progressed to the next round of the Southern League Challenge Cup on penalties following the 2-2 stalemate against Bristol Manor Farm at The Creek on Tuesday night. Covering the match on the Portway was Matchday Reporter, Jack Davies.
Paulton started the evening’s entertainment the better of the two sides, with home keeper Ben John with an unbelievable reaction save to deny Harley Prior for Paulton.
John then had his upright to thank when a spectacular Leighton Thomas strike crashed off the bar, which was eventually hacked clear by Farm defender Josh Ford.
Irrespective of the chances that Manor Farm were creating in the first-half, Lashenko’s men always looked like conceding. A fast break from the visitors ended with Will Harvey’s low-cross that somehow evaded everyone inside the Manor Farm penalty area, including John who was beaten.
Farm’s first, and only real effort, from a disappointing half was via a set piece. Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist’s free-kick was met by Ford, but his header was lifted over
Kai Fisher then made two superb last ditch tackles to temporarily preserve the statement, before the visitors eventually got the goal that their first-half display deserved. Thomas’ effort was parried by John, and despite heavy claims for offside, Harvey poked home the rebound to give Paulton the advantage heading into the break.
For the past four matches at The Creek, each visiting side had seen themselves reduced to ten men, and that pattern was almost repeated for a fifth time early into the second-half. Adam Kelly latched onto Farm forward Ben Bament, but escaped being judged as the last man.
Owen Howe could only fire his close range free-kick high and wide, as Lashenko’s side pushed for an equaliser.
Moments later, Howe was involved in play once again but this time found the back of the Paulton net. Dean Stamp’s perfectly weighted pass set Howe away and the striker ferociously hammered the ball in the top corner.
Howe’s equaliser completely transformed his side’s performance levels, with the Farm looking like a completely different team for the final 15 minutes.
Kyle Tooze’s persistence won a wide free-kick, and despite Mason Winter’s ball in being punched by the keeper, Howe charged on and thundered a terrific volley in the bottom corner.
Howe then came inches away from sealing his hat-trick, when the striker saw his low-effort steered narrowly wide of the back post.
Dean Stamp too came close to marking his return with a goal in the dying embers, after excellent play from Howe who span his man in the build-up, but the powerful forward couldn’t convert his effort.
Paulton did steal an equaliser in the dying embers, visiting keeper Aaron Sainsbury came inches away from heading level, denied at the death by a flying save from John. But the second corner dropped to George Fowler who’s low effort somehow trickled in.
A long penalty shootout followed, and after six penalties scored from eight for both sides, Sam Boulton skied his spot kick and Paulton made it seven to progress in the competition. Lashenko’s men only have to wait four days until Paulton returns to The Creek, this time in the Buildbase FA Trophy. More information regarding Saturday’s fixture will be posted across our website and socials in the coming days.