Highworth Town 1-1 Tadcaster Albion | Ward penalty rescues replay for Tad

Tadcaster Albion's Calum Ward powers home a 67th minute penalty. (Ian Parker)
Tadcaster Albion's Calum Ward powers home a 67th minute penalty. (Ian Parker)
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Tadcaster Albion’s Wembley dream lives on, but they face an enthralling replay against Highworth Town following a tense 1-1 draw.

The pair could not be separated over 120 minutes on Saturday as both teams battled on even terms in front of a 700-strong crowd in Swindon.

A nervy opening period saw the teams turnaround goalless before Highworth’s top goalscorer TJ Bohane fired them in front from a dubious penalty.

However, another contentious penalty decision led to Calum Ward cancelling out the hosts’ lead with 20 minutes remaining, as he powered home from 12 yards.

FA Vase rules sent the match to extra-time but a replay, and not penalties, would follow if no goals were scored.

Chances went few and far between in the extra period, however Albion came mightily close to sealing a semi-final spot in the last minute when Andy Milne headed onto the crossbar.

The game marked history as both clubs had progressed further in the national competition than ever before.

For Tadcaster, more than 250 supporters made the four-hour trip south and the newly-fangled Tadcaster Supporters Club were in fine voice from the first steps into Highworth’s petite sports complex.

Albion boss Paul Marshall made two changes to the side that knocked AFC Mansfield out 3-0 in the last 16 with Josh Barrett starting at left-back in the suspended shoes of Paddy Miller, and Carl Stewart starting ahead of Vincent Dhesi.

Stewart, a prolific marksmen over the last two years for Taddy, should have given the Brewers an ideal start when he raced through on 10 minutes, but his poked effort went too close to Highworth ‘keeper Gary Stevens, who gratefully latched onto the ball.

Albion enjoyed the majority of the pressure in the opening half hour but struggled to break the hosts down in the gusty conditions. Boss Paul Marshall was forced to re-jig his defence on the 20th minute when veteran centre-half Denny Ingram’s afternoon ended due to a hamstring injury, Matt Sparkes replacing him at the heart of the defence.

An opportunity then fell Ward’s way after a poor clearing kick by Stevens landed at the striker’s feet, only for his hurried effort to be blocked.

It took until the 35th minute for Highworth to offer a threat, with 36-goal man Bohane swivelling on the edge of the box before failing to test Taddy stopper Tom Morgan.

That sparked the hosts into life and Bohane’s strike-partner Calum Parsons headed into the ground when free in the box two minutes later.

On the stroke of the interval, Highworth had the ball in the net, but an off-side flag curtailed the home crowd’s celebrations.

Parsons started the quick counter-attack down the right before Brad Clark fed through to Bohane. The striker forced two sharp saves out of Morgan before eventually rippling the net – only to spot the lineman’s flag aloft.

That moment topped the first half action, but the game broke out into an open affair after the interval.

Highworth began pressurising Albion stopper Morgan with high crosses and using the wind to pump balls over the visiting defence.

With one such punt, on the hour mark, Morgan rose highest to punch clear. However, as the small goalie fell to the ground, he was adjudged to have obstructed Parsons and a penalty was awarded.

Bohane, whose goals have fired Highworth into the last eight, slotted home the resultant 12-yard kick, with Morgan just failing to get a grip on the ball.

It took Albion just seven minutes to level the terms, and again, the referee was at the centre of the arguments.

From a Liam Ormsby cross, Stewart worked space in the area and he was bundled to the ground by the barging Highworth defender Jonny Aitkenhead. Ward maintained his perfect record from the spot this season, powerfully smashing low into the corner and sending Stevens the wrong way.

It left 23 minutes for both teams to find a winner in normal time, but the midfields continued to cancel most of the opposition movement.

Morgan again came under pressure from the hosts inside the final ten minutes when Bohane chased a long Stevens kick. After the keeper punched the ball and flattened the striker, the ball landed at substitute Aaron Maximen’s feet, but Albion were quick to crowd him and stop a certain goal.

An almighty goalmouth scramble then gave Josh Greening a chance of a winner but his shot was saved well by Stevens. And in the dying moments, Stewart could have sealed it but his lob ended up in the giant tree behind the goal.

With the scores level, the match headed into two extra periods and cramp began to hit both outfits.

Albion, with the wind behind them again, could have pulled ahead five minutes into the first extra period when Stewart and captain Nick Thompson combined to find Ward on the six-yard box. However, the goalscorer made too sweet a connection and angled his effort marginally over the bar.

The extra 15 minutes looked to have taken its toll on the young striker soon after, though, as he hobbled off for treatment.

He returned for the second period, however, but the pressure came back from the home side with the wind in their sails.

The tension was palpable throughout the crowd, and the travelling support were tested to the limits when Maximen and Bohane created space down the right and the latter’s ball across the box looked destined for a teammate until Josh Barrett stuck out his right leg and cleared.

With the prospect of a replay becoming clear, Albion were awarded one last free-kick in a dangerous area. However, it ended in despair as Milne’s header crashed into the bar, after he found space to meet Lewis Clarkson’s cross.