Fleetwood Town’s under 18s qualified for the second round of the FA Youth Cup with a thrilling 4-3 penalty shootout win over Guiseley on Tuesday night.
After 120 goalless minutes and a red card for either side, the game had to be decided from the spot, where Ben Donnelly-Blackburn scored the decisive penalty.
In a closely contested match, clear cut chances were hard to come by as both defences cancelled each other out.
Town had the better of the game but struggled to break down their hosts who constantly dealt with the aerial bombardment served to them.
The first big chance of the game fell to Jack Bishop after 23 minutes, when he got in behind the Guiseley defence but could only find the side netting with goalkeeper Fletch Paley rushing out.
Minutes later, the hosts created their only real chance of the first half as Harry Turner made a smart stop low to his right to deny Albert Ibrahimi.
Fleetwood striker Connor Finlayson went the closest to opening the scoring in the first half when he volleyed Ryan Rydel’s wicked cross narrowly wide after 40 minutes.
Town started the second half with more intensity and did a good job of keeping Guiseley pinned back in their own half, but they struggled to break through a resilient defence.
On 64 minutes, against the run of play, some defensive uncertainty meant Kayle Price ended up with a great chance to put the hosts ahead but his shot on the turn drifted wide.
Guiseley pushed on and three minutes later they hit the crossbar when Tabish Hussain cut in from the left-hand side and hit a dipping effort which may have opened the scoring had he been a yard further away from goal.
Fleetwood hit the woodwork themselves with just four minutes left of the 90 when Finlayson’s cross deflected onto the post and bounced across goal.
Then the game, which looked like it was meandering towards extra time, suddenly heated up.
Ibrahimi put in a late challenge on Finlayson just inside the Fleetwood half and players from both sides reacted.
It took a couple of minutes for referee Conor Brown to calm things down and then he took his time to think through his actions before giving Ibrahimi and Town’s Alex Dodd their marching orders.
With both sides a man light for the extra period, it was Fleetwood who looked the most likely, but they couldn’t turn their pressure into the opening goal.
In the second half of extra time Guiseley had several headed opportunities from free kicks but Turner’s clean sheet was never in danger.
Sam O’Halleron added his name to the list of players to hit the woodwork when he cut in from the Fleetwood left and curled an effort towards the far post which cannoned back off the crossbar.
With just three minutes to go before penalties it looked like the barrage of crosses might have finally reaped some reward for Fleetwood when Greg McCaragher met a corner, but his header went agonisingly wide.
Guiseley’s Jack Lazenby took the first penalty of the shootout and put it wide of Turner’s left-hand post, before O’Halleron converted.
Jordan Buckham and Ben Unsworth both made no mistake and it was 2-1 to Fleetwood after two penalties each.
Turner then made a great save down to his left to deny Lewis Waddington before Paley stopped Finlayson’s effort.
Luke Hogg, Liam Collings and Lewis Squires converted the next three efforts, leaving Donnelly-Blackburn with the chance to put Town through.
He showed great composure to send the keeper the wrong way with his left-footed penalty and seal the victory for Fleetwood.
Fleetwood will face the winner of Friday’s match between Dunkirk and Tamworth in the second round.