FA Trophy: McDonagh puts Puritans through in a thriller
The Puritans beat Tiverton Town 3-2 in Tuesday’s first qualifying round replay at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium where they had to play for most of the tie with only ten men.
United survived a scare on Halloween night before going through in a match which served up a treat for the supporters. Charlie Hawtin gave United the early lead with his first goal for the club but Ravi Shamsi got a straight red card on the stroke of halftime.
Levi Landricombe equalised after the restart with his third goal at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium, having already bagged a brace in the Emirates FA Cup tie. Landricombe put Tiverton in front only for Hawtin to send the game into extra-time and McDonagh to complete the comeback.
Manager Mike Ford was forced into one change from Saturday. Top scorer Jefferson Louis was ruled out with the injury sustained in the original tie so Ricky Johnson started up front.
But Matt Peake-Pijnen had recovered from the injury which forced him off in the first half on Saturday. So Ford again went with a central defensive trio with Jack Westbrook slotting in alongside Luke Carnell and Tom Bradbury.
As for Tiverton, Landricombe, who caused so many problems in the FA Cup tie, was back to lead the visitors’ attack. And it was Landricombe who had the first chance, his early glancing header saved by Jack Harding.
Tiverton dominated the opening exchanges but the Puritans broke the deadlock in the tenth minute with Peake-Pijnen playing a big part in the goal. Peake-Pijnen linked up with Shamsi on the left flank and his low cross was turned in by Hawtin from six yards.
The goal settled United and they began to have more of the ball but Nick Hurst should have done better when he raced on to Landricombe’s pass before shooting wide under pressure from Bradbury.
The game opened up as the half progressed. A quick break by United saw Shamsi take advantage of Ben Mammola’s slip and his deep cross to the far post was fired into the side-netting by Johnson.
George Nash advanced and made space for a shot from the edge of the box but it didn’t have enough pace to seriously test Martin Rice.
United were reduced to ten men in first-half stoppage-time when Shamsi got a straight red card for a challenge on Mammola in the opposition penalty area. When Johnson was summoned over by Scott Postin it seemed it would be a yellow card but the referee issued a red instead.
That would certainly have a bearing on the second half and test United’s resolve.
Predictably, Tiverton had plenty of possession after the restart and Landricombe popped up with the 58th minute equaliser. Receiving the ball 25 yards out, Tiverton’s talisman took aim and, with fireworks going off in the distance, unleashed a rocket of his own which flew past the diving Harding.
Landricombe whistled another low drive just past the upright and Hurst fired straight at Harding as Tiverton upped the tempo to try and get the job done in 90 minutes. That was exactly what United required to avoid facing an extra half-an-hour with only ten men.
But it was Tiverton who got it in the 78th minute. Callum Hall’s low cross found Landricombe in the box and he fired an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net from ten yards.
Ford threw on McDonagh and Leam Howards in a bid to force extra-time, going with three up front. That left gaps at the back but United equalised in the 85th minute when Jack Self set-up Hawtin who hit a screamer past Rice from 20 yards.
United sensed a winner and went for it but Landricombe was inches away from completing his hat-trick in the final minute of stoppage-time.
The winner came with four minutes of the first period remaining when Johnson’s flick-on found McDonagh who turned well in the box before turning and firing a low drive into the far corner of the net.
But Carnell had to clear off the line from Hurst after Harding failed to hold on a cross. Mike Landricombe shot wide in the second period but United held firm to pull off a famous victory.