HOLBEACH UNITED 1 (Allen 57) HUCKNALL TOWN 3 (Ghizlahzoni 31, Baxter 105, Westcarr 117): THE luckless Tigers rattled the woodwork three times on Wednesday night as their FA Cup dream ended for another year.
Having fallen behind to a sweet Nick Ghizlahzoni strike at a packed Carter’s Park, Holbeach’s Jonny Allen levelled the tie with a stunning second half curler.
Andrew Tidswell then cracked the angle of post and bar and Mitch Griffiths smashed the inside of the post with the last kick of the game as higher-graded Hucknall held on for extra time.
Incredibly, Adam Jackson also fired a dipping 25-yard drive off the bar in the first additional period for the unfortunate Tigers, before Matt Baxter and Carl Westcarr hit the hosts with late sucker punches.
Holbeach boss John Chand, who also saw his charges denied a blatant penalty late in the second half, was left to to reflect on what might have been.
He said: “We went through the motions in the first half, but after the break we were in total control.
“It was incredible how many times we hit the woodwork and on a different day we would have won by three or four.
“We’ve also had a clear penalty turned down by a referee that was very, very picky.
“I’m not too despondent, though. We’ll not play as many teams as good as they are this season and it’s not like we’d have won the competition.
“If I’m being super critical we’ve let them score two goals from headed clearances that we should have done better from.
“But I thought we created a lot of good chances and Paul Goodhand has totally dictated the game in midfield.
“I still can believe Mitch’s shot didn’t go in, it was incredible how it hit the inside of the post and bounced back to the keeper. It was the last kick of the game.”
After the duo drew 0-0 at Hucknall on Saturday, a bumper crowd of 226 turned up for the Preliminary Round replay at Carter’s Park.
Tidswell had the ball in the net early on, but his close-range strike was ruled out for offside.
At the other end, Tigers’ keeper Leigh Overton was forced to superbly tip a wind-assisted cross onto the bar and over, before Ghizlahzoni buried a crisp opener for the Evo-Stik League First Division South visitors from close range.
Holbeach were much-improved after the break, but missed a golden chance to level when Ash Stevens fluffed a one-on-one.
The striker was involved in the equaliser, though. His powerful run into the box ended with a penalty appeal, but amid the confusion Jonny Allen took the chance to arc home a stunning leveller into the top right corner from the edge of the box.
From then on it was all Holbeach, with Tidswell curling an incredible left-footed effort off the angle of post and bar and Stevens heading over from close range.
Five minutes from time the Tigers saw a nailed-on penalty waved away for handball, before perhaps the most memorable moment of the night.
With literally seconds remaining, Griffiths hammered a low drive off the inside of the far post – only for the ball to bounce out and drop in the hands of Hucknall stopper James Lindley.
Into extra time and the woodwork was peppered once again. This time it was left back Jackson who unleashed a fierce strike from distance, but the bar denied him with Lindley beaten.
However, Hucknall then stunned the boisterous home faithful with a sensational 25 yard volley from Matt Baxter on the stroke of the interval. The substitute picked out the right-hand corner with an unstoppable effort.
Holbeach were boosted by a straight red for Ghizlahzoni moments later – dismissed for an apparent elbow on Jackson – and pushed forward in numbers. But they were caught on the break by a late third from Westcarr, who beat Overton from close range to seal Hucknall’s progress.
It was cruel on the hosts, who were the better side for large periods. Hucknall now head for Matlock in the First Qualifying Round.
Tigers: Overton, Griffiths, Jackson, Harper (N Brown 58), B Brown, J Stevens, Kennedy (Keeble 115) , Goodhand, Tidswell, A Stevens, Allen (Treacher 105).