Penalty controversy

Red Row Welfare...1 Newcastle Chemfica...1 (Chemfica won 6-5 on penalties)

NFA Minor Cup, Round Four

RED Row Welfare controversially went out of the Minor Cup after pushing Newcastle Chemfica all the way to penalties before going out in heartbreaking fashion.

Despite Chemfica playing their football three leagues above Red Row, it was the latter who dominated possession in the first half, keeping the ball for long periods but finding the organised Alliance Division One outfit hard to break down, with Sean Anderson going close from 25 yards with Red Row’s first real chance of note.

Chemfica played a long ball game to good effect with Craig Jones proving a handful upfront but aside from a few half-chances, Chemfica didn’t trouble stand-in keeper John Charlton and it was no surprise when the teams went in goalless at half-time after a cagey 45 minutes.

Early in the second half, Robert Baker’s stinging drive forced a good save from the visiting keeper before the long ball finally caught out Red Row and the blistering pace of Craig Robinson followed by a powerful finish put Chemfica into a scarcely deserved lead (0-1).

This goal gave the visitors a boost and they started to build some dangerous attacks but the centre-half pairing of Mick Straker and Mark Smith were as solid as ever, dealing with everything the Chemfica attack threw at them.

Darren Smith then went close at the other end having his effort hacked away from goal and it started to look as if Red Row were going to fail to score for the first time all season but when a Paul Smith free-kick was delivered into the box, the Chemfica keeper bundled over Kevin Bell, resulting in a penalty that Robert Baker coolly dispatched to force the game into extra-time.

Red Row should have taken the lead early in extra time but Kevin Bell shot wide after being put through from a delightful pass from Paul Smith.

Darren Smith was then sent off after a tangle in the box as Chemfica’s superior fitness started to show. But the stubborn Red Row defence and in particular keeper John Charlton wouldn’t allow them through and so a penalty shoot-out was forced to separate the teams.

Kevin Bell, Dan Palmer, Paul Smith, Robert Baker and Jack Small all scored their penalties, forcing it to sudden death, and Mark Smith’s penalty struck the bar and appeared to go over the line before being clawed out by the keeper.

The referee refused to award the goal or order a retake despite being told by a Northern Alliance official that the ball was well over the line and despite admitting he should have been standing in a suitable place rather than on the edge of the 18-yard box.

Chemfica scored their final penalty to knock out Red Row, despite a great effort from everyone.

Red Row: J Charlton, J Giles, M Straker, M Smith, D Palmer, K Taylor, S Palmer, R Baker, S Anderson, D Smith, K Bell, M Nixon, P Smith, J Small. HFC Pizzas man-of-the-match: John Charlton.