ANOTHER cup game, another penalty shoot-out for Barnstaple Town.
But unlike their Devon St Luke’s defeat to Willand Rovers last month, Barnstaple held their nerve to knock Tiverton Town out of the Southern League Challenge Cup.
The game finished 1-1 after 90 minutes – Levi Landricombe’s superb first-half volley cancelled out by what appeared to be Aaron Harper-Penman’s first of the season with 19 minutes to go.
With the pressure on, Barnstaple expertly put away all four of their penalties – through Scott Sharp, Liam Gregory, Niall Heeney and Jack Jenkins – while Landricombe was the only one to net for Tiverton.
Steve Oliver made fine saves to deny George Rogers and Owen Howe before Jenkins sent his kick into the top left to seal a place in the second round.
Oliver was called into action as early as the second minute when Barnstaple failed to clear and Jamie Short drilled across goal, but the keeper got down well to tip it away.
Short was then one of two Tiverton players booked in an increasingly fractious first half. The right wing-back petulantly kicked the ball away at a free-kick and Scott Rogers was yellow-carded after back-chatting referee Lee Rutter.
All this was caused by a nasty facial injury to former Bideford forward Craig Duff after quarter of an hour. Duff was bleeding heavily from his mouth and had to be carried out of Mill Road on his way to hospital.
The Tiverton bench were incensed with Rutter’s handling of the incident – a feeling they let boil over on more than one occasion – but the one good thing to come from it for the visitors was the introduction of Levi Landricombe.
The 10-goal hitman proved his worth with a stunning goal five minutes before the break. Receiving the ball 25 yards from goal, he took an excellent touch to get the ball up and away from his body and rifled a volley across Oliver into the bottom corner.
The ex-Holsworthy striker almost replicated the feat on the stroke of half-time, this time dragging just wide.
Barnstaple’s second half was a marked improvement on the first. Sharp was unlucky to see his effort clip the outside of the far post and Lee Francis – later booked for a foul on Steve Kingdon – shot at keeper Joe Perry.
The hosts were pushing for an equaliser and – bar the individual brilliance of Landricombe – Tiverton were not posing their first-half threat.
Five minutes after being sent on for Kyle Paine, Gregory had an assist. His corner was met by Dave Pearse who crashed a header on to the post. The ball bounced out and appeared to strike a combination of Harper-Penman and a Tiverton man before going in.
Gregory looked bright and had a low shot palmed behind at the near post as Barnstaple pressed for a late winner.
The game went the distance, though, and Barum held their nerve in the shoot-out.
Barnstaple Town (3-5-2): Steve Oliver; Scott Huxtable, Aaron Harper-Penman, Craig Allan; Kyle Paine (Liam Gregory 66), Lee Francis (Jack Jenkins 75), Niall Heeney, Shaun Copp, Steve Holland; Dave Pearse, Scott Sharp. Subs not used: Jimmy Thorne, Ryan Turner, James Mayne.
Tiverton Town (3-5-2): Joe Perry; Ben Mammola, Tom Gardner, Steve Kingdon; Jamie Short, Ben Carter, Scott Rogers, Michael Landricombe, Jordan Walton (George Rogers 82); Tom Bath (Owen Howe 75), Craig Duff (Levi Landricombe 17). Subs not used: Jamie Price.
Referee: Lee Rutter.