Straight to penalties gave FA Cup ties added spice

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I could get used to cup games going straight to penalties if last night’s FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie between Basingstoke Town and Bournemouth was anything to go by.

The fixture was, as most early-season games are, full tilt with Basingstoke (Southern League Division One – step 4) probing and attacking Bournemouth (Wessex League Premier – step 5) at will with the latter defending deep, but resolutely.

It was – two teams putting every effort in to the match, I am sure what most supporters really wanted to see after months without competitive action – for quite understandable reasons.

You had a feeling though, that it might not quite have been Basingstoke’s night, especially when they missed a penalty in the first half, but that was when the idea of the game going straight to penalties at the end of 90 minutes really started to appeal.

I’ll just put out there that I think it’s a shame replay’s aren’t happening this season, it’s a valuable part of the FA Cup, especially when a lower league team is able to bring the bigger side ‘back to their’s’ so to speak. But it’s to the FA’s credit in this season without replay’s that they haven’t bulked out matches with 30 minutes extra time before spot-kicks.

When Bournemouth scored in the second half, one of only a couple of chances that fell their way, the prospect of penalties, at least in my mind, meant we were in for a frantic and furious end to the game as the Dragons sought a way back in – only heightened when a couple of chances went begging thanks in no small part to the efforts of Poppies centre-back Lewis Harvey and goalkeeper Kacper Kowalczyk.

When Basingstoke did equalise, the Rivermoor erupted and they pushed for a winner knowing penalties were looming at the full-time whistle. At the point of the equaliser, what ordinarily would have happened when penalties are involved is that the life would disappear from the game. Yes, there’d be chances, but the knowledge there was about to be 30 minutes extra time, generally knocks the stuffing out of the game.

Not this seasons FA Cup though, Basingstoke pushed on to the final whistle as Bournemouth hung on, both sides a bit ragged but giving it their all.

So, replay’s yes please, but extra time before a penalty shoot-out, that can definitely go.

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