Goalkeeper Alex Tokarczyk was the hero as he saved two penalties in the shoot-out to help Aylesbury United dump Premier Division side Redditch United out of the Red Insure Cup on Saturday.
With a gritty, determined defensive display, a patched up Ducks side stopped the rot of four straight defeats as they held their high-flying hosts to a 1-1 draw before going on to win the shoot-out 4-3.
Aylesbury were heavily depleted going into the game with Shane Wood and Paul Edgeworth unavailable, Lee Grace and Billy Adcock injured, while Jake Bewley and Lewis Osborne suffered a puncture and didn’t reach the ground until half-time to further hamper Tony Joyce’s pre-match preparations.
It meant promotion from the reserves for defenders George Tomlin and John Mulholland, a full debut for 16-year old Nathan Tshikuna, a hurried return from injury for Jordon Frederick and a recall for striker Stacey Field.
Redditch, fourth in the Premier Division, were keen to get on top early as a weak free-kick was gathered by Tokarczyk before Luke Shearer met a left wing cross with a flying header that went wide.
Tokarczyk was a busy man throughout the first half as United spent long periods camped in their own half, however they survived the first 30 minutes and sniffed a chance to nick a goal before the break with Eoin Casey and Jack Wood going close.
That wasn’t to be the case, as, having held out valiantly for 43 minutes, the hosts finally found the breakthrough.
An incisive through ball finally had the Ducks defence breached, and Shearer produced a clinical finish.
In stoppage time at the end of the first half, Ash Farmer nearly scored with a cheeky free-kick when Jamie Moreton, expecting a cross, placed himself across goal and Farmer went straight for the net with an effort that curled just wide of the exposed near post.
Nobody could deny the hosts had deserved their lead at the interval, and Dubidat should have doubled it with two good chances after the restart, but Tokarczyk thwarted him on both occasions.
That gave the away side hope, and with a bolt out of the blue, the Ducks were suddenly level. Substitute Bewley – who had arrived on the field just two minutes earlier – caught a 35-yard half volley beautifully as the ball sat up for him, and home goalkeeper Josh Morton had no chance as the ball stunningly dipped into the net beyond him.
It wasn’t long before Redditch were back on the attack with Dubidat, substitute Brandon Mutibvu and Shearer all close to restoring their lead.
United’s task then became a bit harder when Mulholland was shown two yellow cards in the space of two minutes for slightly mistimed challenges, leaving the Ducks to play the final 15 minutes a man short.
They continued to thwart the hosts, though, as Tokarczyk remained in defiant mood and with no extra-time, the tie went straight to penalties.
Immediately Aylesbury gained the upperhand when Tokarczyk saved Redditch’s opening effort, and it was eventually left to Tokarczyk to fire home the winning penalty and send Aylesbury through.
The Ducks are back in league action tonight, Tuesday, when they visit Barton.
Aylesbury have boosted their attacking options with the signing of Ryan Laville.