Hayes & Yeading United bowed out of the Setanta Shield at the second round stage at Ship Lane losing a penalty shoot out after twice coming from behind during the 90 minutes.
Manager Garry Haylock took a chance to rest six players from his regular starting line-up, giving a start to the regular subs and those returning from injury. James Mulley was first to test Thurrock keeper David Blackmore when he forced the West Ham loanee to touch his shot around the post after six minutes. The resultant corner being half cleared by Rob Swaine to Steve Perkins but his shot was comfortably held by Blackmore.
The home side started to pressure United after the quarter hour mark and fifteen minutes later were two goals to the good. Left-back Mark Wright twice missed the target by inches from distance and Leon McKenzie headed over when well placed in the centre. United then saw a Mulley shot ricochet off two Thurrock defenders and go inches wide before going behind on 25 minutes. The impressive Sam Letchmore broke free on the right flank and cut his way into the area before firing across to McKenzie who applied the finishing touch.
Just five minutes later Wright finally hit the target by curling a 25 yard free-kick over the wall and into the top corner of Delroy Preddie's net to double The Fleet's advantage. United could have been back in the game within a minute when a long range Josh Scott shot fell nicely to Kieran Knight but he failed to keep his composure and fired over with just Blackmore to beat. United's opener was only minutes away though as Scott chased the ball to the right side of the Thurrock area only to be tripped by Blackmore who was caught by the strikers pace. Scott duly stepped up and fired home his fourth penalty of the season.
As the half drew to a close it was the home side that went close on two occasions, Letchmore beat two defenders having cut in from the right but his effort past Preddie was just off target. On the stroke of half time the same player outpaced Peter Collins only to be denied by a fine Preddie save.
Within ten minutes of the restart United should have been level, excellent footwork from Scott on the right side of the area drew all of the attention before he squared the ball to Knight who managed to screw his shot wide of a virtually open goal. Chances were then at a bit of a premium for some time, Jon Docker broke away from his won half and set up substitute David Bryant but he skied his shot. Garry Haylock then threw Will Hendry and Scott Fitzgerald into the fray with 18 minutes remaining and this seemed to inject more lift into the United attack.
Ram Marwa was just too high with an angled shot from the corner of the box before Hendry plowed his way through all and sundry before again firing just over the crossbar. With just four minutes remaining Garry played his last card and took off Peter Collins from defence and threw central defender Matt Ruby into the forward line. Although not directly involved in the build up, his presence gave the Fleet defenders an extra body to worry about as just a minute later the scores were level. Scott beat his marker in the area and fired the ball across the face of goal to Fitzgerald who coolly controlled the ball and placed it past Blackmore into the far corner.
With everyone now thinking extra time you would be correct but not many would have bet on 3-3 at full-time!
Three minutes into stoppage time Docker broke away down the right side and fired across a perfect centre that Che Stadhart threw himself at and planted an unstoppable diving header past Preddie. Next came one of the most amazing things I have seen in the past 30 years of watching football. Six minutes stoppage time had elapsed, the ball was in Blackmore's hands and the whistle was in the referee's mouth to end the game when the home keeper decided to lash out at Fitzgerald leaving referee Gosling with no option but to award a second penalty to United and dismiss the keeper for violent conduct. In what was now the 98th minute Scott again slid home calmly from the spot.
Despite starting extra time with a man advantage, this did not last long as United soon lost Tom Cadmore
to injury and having used all subs it was again 10 v 10. Two minutes before the break came United's closest effort when Hendry fired a free-kick that stand-in keeper Matt Paine did superbly to palm away and Swaine did even better when he slid in to block away Fitzgerald's rebound from two yards out.
The second period had little in the way of chances also, Preddie had to be at his agile best when Stadhart and Letchmore broke away, the stopper tipping Letchmore's drive over the bar. Hendry and Knight both fired wide of the post before the home side were reduced to nine men by a crude Stadhart tackle on Scott that earned him a second yellow card and the United man an injured ankle. The final three minutes saw Paine called upon twice, the closest being a 45 yard punt upfield that had him backpeddaling and he headed it off the line rather than risk carrying it over the line if he tried a catch.
So to penalties, the first nine found the target with barely a touch from either keeper. Sadly for United and Knight in particular it really was not his night as he stepped up and fired over the crossbar to give the home side a place in the third round.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Website United Man of the Match: Nevin Saroya.