Intense drama at Tipton Sports Academy saw this B-ham County Cup-tie eventually decided courtesy of a penalty shoot-out, the competing clubs locked at 4-4 at the close of 90 mins, Tipton emerging victorious albeit a close run thing.

The home club almost opened the scoring from the outset, TJ Davies bursting through but seeing his point-blank effort worthily saved by visiting keeper and skipper, Brad Carter. Doughty fighters, Castle Vale proved to be, however, striking back with assured skill and piercing Tipton’s rearguard, only for Obeira Odelili to fire wide of the home goalpost.

Davies once again helped take up the charge for Tipton, breaking clear before a splendid challenge by Adrian Robinson halted his progress. Still making the early running, home skipper, Sam Hesson’s smart lay-off put Tipton on the charge once more, Jordan Masidi taking the sting out of the home skipper’s effort and allowing Castle Vale to close ranks, just 6 minutes having elapsed. Eye-catching control saw Odelili pick out Jack Garghan but he was rapidly closed down by Tipton’s Lleyton Gould, Back with the home club, Davies’s accurate Crossfield ball threw Castle’s defence immediately afterwards, the grateful recipient, Sam Armstrong, confidently smashing the ball home, giving Tipton a 7th minute lead 1-0.

Intent on capitalizing on this early breakthrough, the hosts soon launched another fine attack, frantic activity ensuing in the visitor’s goalmouth, Scott Broadway and Ben Store both unluckily denied before the intensity of the attack slowly lost it’s venom. Broadweay again saw another effort turned aside by keeper, Carter before Castle Vale hit back, Kieron Smith breaking up their response on 12 minutes as they sought to make progress down the flank. Castle were now playing some fine, attacking soccer, Jordan Masidi’s fierce drive from fully 25 yards only just clearing the home bar.

Again the home club surged forwards, Armstrong breaking down the left before crossing into the visitor’s penalty area where Alex McCarthy took charge, driving forcefully clear. Tipton, searching for an early addition to their score were somewhat unfortunate to see Brad Carter, visiting keeper and skipper, too, turn aside Lleyton Gould’s drive for goal and immediately afterwards somehow hold onto a goalbound strike by TJ Davies, midway through the first half. All to change soon, however, the resilient visitors squaring the tie at 1-1 on 22 minutes, Ian Fisher’s smart finish, following clever build-up play by Masidi and Odelili, piercing Tipton’s retreating rearguard. Just 4 mins.later the now resurgent visitors stormed ahead at 1-2, Jack Gargham’s stunning 25 yard snapshot simply whistling past home keeper, Thomas.

Now in the ascendancy, Castle Vale began to attack at will, Gargham’s 32nd min. effort, cutting in from the right, well claimed under pressure by home keeper, Thomas. Back came the home club, after Alex Norris had secured possession, skipper, Sam Hesson jinking through the retreating Castle defence before being brought to earth with a quite disgraceful over-the- top tackle deserving of nothing less than a red card, the referee, to much booing and cat-calling, weakly brandishing a yellow only. Further efforts upon the Castle goal fell foul of stout resistance and defending before they finally broke free, Gargham making ground to fire wide of the home goal just seconds prior to the interval whistle.

Tipton, responding to Manager, Neil Perks’s advice and encouragement during the interval break, attacked from the outset, the doughty visitors, however, absorbing Tipton’s energies with some, if not total, alacrity. Davies, on 51 mins. sent Broadway down the right, a dangerous cross ensuing into the visitor’s penalty area, hurriedly, but emphatically, hooked clear. Seeking parity as rapidly as possible, Tipton dominated the attacking for a spell, Connor Scott denied by Jordan Masidi as he encroached into the visitor’s penalty area before home skipper, Hesson crossed low and hard, Alex McCarthy turning the ball away for a corner, Broadway’s resultant header, however, a little wide, 53 mins. now played.

Just a couple of mins. later, however, parity reigned again, TJ Davies cannoning home after Broadway’s drive was parried clear. 2-2. On 63 mins with Tipton making the running at this stage, Mark Cartwright’s splendid cross was met by Davies, his volley hurtling inches over the visitor’s bar. All Tipton at this stage, both skipper, Hesson and Cartwright launching fine efforts at the Birmingham club’s goal. Quite brilliant movement by Ben Store ‘threw’ two visiting defenders as he made ground into their penalty area, only desperate defending seeming to keep the resurgent Black Country club at bay.

71 mins arrived and with it catastrophe for the home club too, Jack Gargham winning a midfield ball to surge forward before netting a quite stunning strike for Castle 2-3. On 75 mins Joshua Walker conceded a clear penalty, Scott Broadway driving home and bringing parity to the scoreline at 3-3. On 80 mins. Davies rode tackles and lunges again before crossing accurately for Connor Scott to squeeze the ball home  4-3. The lead short-lived, however, with the resurgent visitors driving forward with great purpose and squaring the tie yet again on 82 minutes, Ian Fisher their beneficiary. 4-4.

Caution simply thrown to the wind now, both clubs striving for the winner. Davies burst clear for Tipton on 84 mins., his urgency overwhelming him and resulting in his effort sailing over the top. And then home skipper, Hesson also skimmed the visitor’s bar on 87 mins, Tipton now easily the dominant force, Davies again, gliding ghost-like through the harassed Castle defence but, at the death, steering his effort just wide. Full time blown by the referee leading to the oft dreaded ‘penalty shootout’, tense drama ensuing with much nail biting too but, keeping their cool best, Tipton just had sufficient nerve to see it through, emerging victorious and now awaiting knowledge of their opponents in the next Round.

John  A.Cross

President, Tipton Town F.C.