Striker Joe Walton is unlikely goalkeeping hero for Liversedge in FA Trophy tie
Joe Walton was the hero in an unlikely manner as Liversedge FC earned their place in the third qualifying round of the FA Trophy with a penalty shoot-out victory away to Clitheroe.
The 10 men of Liversedge managed to hold out for a 1-1 draw at their North West hosts before winning the shoot-out 10-9 despite having to play the majority of the game with their striker in goal.
Walton proved to be the surprise hero with an outstanding display after he was pressed into being an emergency goalkeeper and he made two massive saves in the shoot-out as well as scoring one of the spot kicks himself.
Sedge got off to a flying start when some smart build-up play allowed Jack Hardacre space to drill a low cross for Gavin Allott to tap home in the seventh minute.
They could have doubled the lead just a few minutes later when an Allott pull-back found Ben Atkinson in space on the edge of the box, but he failed to find the target.
Clitheroe started to grow into the game and forced Jordan Porter into a superb reflex save on the quarter hour before seeing the rebound deflected out for a corner.
It was a mix-up in the Liversedge defence that allowed Clitheroe the chance to level when Ross Dent capitalised as Kevy Tarangadzo let the ball bounce and Porter was slow off his line, which forced Tarangadzo to bring the attacker down and concede a penalty.
Cole Lonsdale confidently smashed his spot kick towards the right corner in the 24th minute.
Atkinson had another good chance around the half-hour when Allott found his head with a cross, but the midfielder missed the target.
Porter made another fantastic reflex stop from a close-range shot to deny Louis Almond, but the Sedge keeper would find himself sent-off just moments later.
It was a similar mix-up between Tarangadzo and Porter to the one that conceded the penalty, but this time it was the keeper who committed a last-ditch foul and he was to be red carded.
Without a substitute goalkeeper on the bench Walton, who usually wears the number nine, was forced to put on the number 13 shirt as he came on as substitute, replacing Paul Walker.
The first sign of Walton’s heroic performance came in the 52nd minute when he managed to make an incredible diving save from Richard Baker’s header that was heading into the bottom left corner.
The saves kept coming from Walton as he managed to meet efforts from Gary Stopforth, Lonsdale, and Harrison Burke.
Nicky Walker could have won it for the 10 men of Sedge when a long ball managed to get him through on goal, but his chipped effort cannoned off the bar and went over around 20 minutes from time.
It took some stern defending from Sedge in the final few minutes to ensure the tie headed to penalties, most notable was Kurt Harris’ block from a goalbound effort.
After a hugely entertaining match, the fun kept coming in the penalty shoot-out as all 22 penalties found the target, 19 of which found the goal.
And Walton was again the hero of the shoot-out as he made two saves and even scored a penalty himself as Sedge ran out 10-9 winners in a thrilling finish.