FA Vase: Melton Town hold their nerve in penalty shoot-out
Melton Town secured an FA Vase showdown with former winners Rugby Town after a tense penalty shootout win over ambitious Ingles on Saturday.
With the scores tied at 2-2 after extra time, and penalties locked at 4-4, Town held their nerve to win 6-5 on sudden-death spot-kicks.
Town expected a test in the first qualifying round against newly-promoted Ingles who arrived fourth in the East Midlands Counties League and fresh from an 11-1 rout of Arnold Town.
But straight from kick-off Melton imposed themselves with a high pressing game.
After just five minutes Reeve was clean through after winning the ball from a hesitant Dan Tuck, but the Town striker was forced to hurry his lob and Copson headed off the line.
Melton continued to dominate, but Ingles’ defence and midfield remained disciplined, and midway through the half the visitors went close when Fowkes flicked on Blackshaw’s long cross to Hammond who slipped as the goal beckoned.
Ingles began to take control in midfield and almost led when another Blackshaw cross found Fowkes unmarked at the back post, but he headed inches wide.
And five minutes from half-time the visitors had the ball in the net when a free-kick from the right of the box evaded both Town keeper Peet and Fowkes, and trickled over the line.
The goal was disallowed for a foul on the keeper, but with the very next attack Ingles threatened again when Hammond’s quick turn and drive missed by inches.
Then on the stroke of half time Melton took the lead against the run of play.
Thorpe’s through ball allowed Reeve to outmuscle both central defenders and pull the keeper wide before lobbing into an empty net.
The first attack of the second half saw a similar move with Reeve clear on goal, but he was driven wide by the keeper and his low shot from an acute angle flew across goal.
Parsons went close minutes later when the keeper parried his shot away, and Hibbitt then headed just over from Sam Wilson’s corner.
But midway through the second half Ingles were given a lifeline from a free-kick on the edge of the area.
The referee warned players twice for pushing and shoving, and when the set piece was eventually taken, the ball was lobbed into a crowded goalmouth, and the referee pointed to the spot. Hammond’s penalty sent Peet the wrong way.
Town went close to a winner with four minutes left when Thorpe cut the ball back to Reeve whose low shot was blocked on the line. Parsons’ follow-up was also stopped on the line.
Melton were back in front after five minutes of extra time when Reeve flicked on a free-kick from substitute Price to Price who headed high into the net.
But Ingles levelled with an almost identical goal four minutes later when Tapper’s cross from the left was headed in by Hammond.
With both teams looking fatigued on a warm afternoon, the tie drifted into penalties.
Melton missed at 2-1 to give Ingles the upperhand, but Peet saved the next, low to his left.
As the shoot-out went into sudden-death kicks, both teams scored their first before Peet brilliantly saved from Adam Smith, again low to his left.
Hollis held his nerve to send Melton through to a second qualifying round tie at home to Rugby on Saturday, September 15.
In the meantime they will look to consolidate their lead in United Counties League Division One on Saturday when they visit Long Buckby (kick-off 3pm).