FOOTBALL: VALLEY progressed into the second round of the Integro League Cup thanks to a 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory over a youthful Ilkeston side at Butlin Road on Tuesday evening, reports Jon Venner.
Having played out a ninety minute stalemate, the game went straight to penalties and with Rugby successfully converting all four of their spot-kicks, Louis Connor twice denied the Premier Division visitors from twelve yards to earn Town a place in the second round.
Gary Moran gave midfielder Harry Holloway a first start for the club as one of five changes from the weekend defeat against Romulus, which also saw the Rugby boss himself take the field for the first time in six matches.
Kyle Rowley’s early wayward free-kick was a forerunner to a number of off-target attempts from both sides, with Adrian Boitos, Holloway and Chris Sterling all failing to trouble Ilkeston keeper Ross Durrant with their efforts.
Aiden Print also had a shot blocked for Rugby, whilst at the other end Ryan Head headed a decent chance over the bar and Mason Rowley pulled off an excellent double block on the goal-line to keep out back-to-back strikes from both Connor Walters and Tevahn Tyrell as the first period drew near to its conclusion.
Town’s best opportunity of the tie came shortly after the restart, when Durrant could only parry out Print’s whipped-in cross, with Danny Campbell smashing the loose ball against the base of the post.
Dexter Atkinson and sub Luis Rose both went close for llkeston, before Blaize Punter’s surging run nearly created an opening for the hosts, with Punter then called into action in his own penalty box when he did well to block out a good chance for Brandon Clarke.
Tyrell also looped a late header onto the top of the frame for the Robins, before the final whistle signalled a penalty shoot-out.
Edji Mbunga, the two Rowleys and Punter then all confidently despatched their strikes into the net, but Connor was down well to keep out both Haydn Goddard’s and Tyrell’s spot-kicks to secure the victory for his side.