HIGHWORTH Town manager John Fisher hailed his team’s character as they progressed to the fourth round of the Bluefin Sports Challenge Cup after a thrilling penalty shootout at Flackwell Heath.
With the two sides locked at 0-0 following 90 minutes, the hosts took the lead 13 minutes into the first period of extra time when Gavin James tucked away Stuart Glynn’s pass.
But Highworth forced the game to a shootout when Matt Horsell headed home TJ Bohane’s cross three minutes from time.
Having missed their third penalty, Town needed the heroics of stand-in keeper Kurtis Sharkey, in for the cup-tied Gary Stevens, to save the day.
Sharkey saved the hosts fourth and fifth spot-kick with Rich Saunders netting the important final penalty for Town to send them through.
But while this cup contest was from far a thriller, Highworth manager Fisher was pleased that his side kept fighting until the end.
“To keep going like we did, considering that we haven’t played for six weeks was fantastic,” he said.
“Their manager wasn’t happy and felt they had been robbed, obviously we were watching different games because I felt that it was pretty even.
“They had a couple of half chances to go 2-0 up, but the lads kept going right until the end.
“And in that respect we were probably hanging on, so to score with only a couple of minutes to was pleasing - we just kept on fighting.”
With Highworth sitting in fifth place in the Hellenic League Premier Division table, 13 points behind leaders Ardley United, the victory at Flackwell keeps the Elms side season alive.
“The lads were so tired by the end of the match,” Fisher said. “They kept looking over to the bench because their legs were gone.
“The pitch was extremely heavy, I think it was very close to not going ahead, but this would have done wonders for their fitness levels.
“But it also keeps the season alive for us. It’d be nice if we can win some silverware this year.
“I don’t mind who we face in the next round, we’ll have to try and beat them between now and the final away.
“If we could get a home draw then that would be good.”
Sam Collier’s first official game in charge of Shrivenham was called off with Barrington Park waterlogged – postponing their Premier Division meeting with Binfield. Wootton Bassett Town’s home clash with Kidlington suffered the same fate.