Hastings United have set themselves up for a mouth-watering tie against Championship high-fliers Middlesbrough after a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Harrogate Town at the Pilot Field tonight.
With the second round tie all square at 1-1 after 90 minutes, and then with no further goals scored during the 30 minutes’ extra time, it was Ryman Premier League Hastings who held their nerve in the spot kicks, to spark jubilant scenes among the 4,000-strong crowd.
Earlier, Lee Carey had put United ahead from the penalty spot in the 47th minute, and the East Sussex outfit, the lowest ranked side left in the competition, looked to be cruising towards a money-busting third round tie on Teesside.
However home hearts were broken right on the final whistle when Harrogate’s Tom Platt volleyed home an equaliser in the 90th minute from a corner.
The penalty shoot-out was a dramatic affair. Hastings were successful with first their four penalty kicks as Jack Dixon, Matt Whitehead, Lee Carey and Zac Attwood all found the back of the net.
However Harrogate missed their second penalty when Tom Platt, who had scored both the Yorkshire side’s goals in the second round tie, ballooned his effort well over.
Hastings had a chance to win it with their fifth spot kick, but Danny Ellis skied his effort over the crossbar. However, Lee Elam then failed to score for the visitors, leaving Dee Okojie with the task of sealing the tie with the winning penalty.
When he scored, Okojie ran towards the fans behind the Elphinstone Road end of the crowd, where he was mobbed by his team-mates. Many of the fans then poured onto the pitch in celebration.
Hastings had won a match for six years in the FA Cup, but they have now won six matches this year, three against higher league opposition.
Now all roads point towards Middlesbrough the first weekend of January for one of the biggest days in Hastings United’s history.