HASHTAG UNITED  1 - 1 FELIXSTOWE & WALTON UTD (Hashtag United win 13-12 on penalties)

 Penalty shootout heartbreak for the Seasiders in FA Cup


Felixstowe & Walton United exited the Emirates FA Cup at the first stage for the fourth year in succession after a penalty shootout loss in Essex today. Henry Barley had equalised for the Seasiders late in the game after the home side had converted a first half penalty, and with the score tied at the 90 minute mark it was straight to penalties with Hashtag coming out on top 13-12 after an epic shootout of 30 spot kicks.

The Seasiders started with a strong first eleven, despite the continuing injury situation, with teenager Tyger Smalls making his competitive debut, alongside Lamell Howell and Callum Robinson. Noel Aitkens, George Clarke, Miles Powell, Leon Ottley-Gooch and Curtis Haynes-Brown all missed the game due to injury.

Hashtag ground share with Bowers & Pitsea at the Len Salmon stadium in Basildon, and it was a sellout crowd of 300 that welcomed the teams on to the plush 3G surface. Plenty of Felixstowe supporters had made the journey and were enjoying the hype that the YouTubers were bringing with their plethora of cameras and excitable young followers.


If the Felixstowe supporters were expecting to witness the physical battle that usually accompanies the games in this part of the world, they were mistaken as from the off Hashtag were showing that similar to Felixstowe, they were going to instead get the ball on the ground and play a good brand of passing football and early on were breaking forward at pace without creating too much in the box. Ollie Canfer was close to putting the visitors ahead on 7 minutes, lobbing the Goalkeeper inside the box but seeing his effort just clear the crossbar. Hashtag took the lead on 15 minutes, a defender adjudged to have brought down their forward as he burst into the 18 yard box. It certainly looked soft but the referee pointed to the spot despite being some way from the alleged offence. George Smith confidently converted the penalty to the delight of the home supporters. Lamell Howell shot wide as Felixstowe had more of the play for the remainder of the first half, with Hashtag happy to pack their defence each time the Seasiders ventured forward.


Felixstowe were straight on the front foot at the start of the first half, Armani Schaar causing problems for the home defence and substitute Kyle Jopling launching a fierce shot that flew just wide with the Goalkeeper clutching thin air as he dived to cover the post. The home side were unfortunate not to extend their lead as the half wore on, twice being denied by excellent saves from Callum Robinson, one from close range as he someone managed to claw the goal-bound strike away from danger. Felixstowe finally found an equaliser on 74 minutes, Henry Barley amongst three Seasiders on the edge of the box, and he rifled a great shot beyond the keeper to level the tie. Neither side had any further clear cut chances as the game edged towards the final whistle, delayed severely by a blood injury to captain Josh Kerridge.


New rules for the shortened season meant it was straight to penalties after the 90 minutes and what an epic shootout it was! Felixstowe were to take the first penalty each round and it was Ollie Canfer who was first to see his decent penalty saved with the score at 1-1, luckily Callum Robinson immediately matched his opposing 'Keeper by pulling off a great save to silence the baying home crowd. The first scheduled five apiece ended with a score of 4-4 and we went to sudden death. Some excellent penalties were taken by both sides and time and again Felixstowe's lead was pegged back. Jordan Matthews was unlucky to see his penalty saved but again Robinson was on hand to keep the Seasiders in the game. Finally with the score at 12-12 after 28 penalties, it was Kyle Jopling on the receiving end of a great save and this time Robinson was unable to stop the following penalty as the Tags ran out 13-12 winners to spark jubilant scenes amongst the home support.















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