United went through in the Capital One Cup tonight after a penalty shoot-out against AFC Bournemouth. Two evenly matched sides slugged out a 0-0 draw after extra time before Damian batt decided the tie with a fifth penalty in the shoot out.
The U’s started the season in their usual 4-3-3 shape, Ryan Clarke in goal and the back line of Damian Batt, Michael Raynes, Jake Wright, and Tony Capaldi. In midfield Lee Cox and Jake Forster-Caskey made debuts alongside Adam Chapman while James Constable and Alfie Potter were joined by Sean Rigg, the fourth player making his first competitive start for the Yellows.
Bournemouth, tipped by many as contenders in npower League 1 might have opened the scoring in the second minute as former Cheltenham striker Wes Thomas headed wide at the near post when he should have at least made Clarke work, while the highly rated Marc Pugh tested Clarke’s handling twice inside the first five minutes with shots from the left of the area.
United grew into the game after that with Potter catching the eye up front and Cox doing the simple things well in a holding role in midfield; his wholehearted challenges will quickly make him a favourite with United fans on this form.
Batt’s marauding runs down the right were causing Bournemouth problems and when the right-back continued his run into the box on 28 minutes he forced Cherries’ keeper Shwan Jalal into his first save of the night to keep out a right footed drive. Although they hadn’t created too many chances United had matched their higher division visitors and would have been hard done by if Lewis Grabban had guided his 40th minute header into the net rather than into the car park.
Indeed the very impressive Rigg could even have given them a lead at the break with a fizzing shot from 20 yards which ripped narrowly wide before the best openings of the first half fell to Chapman and Rigg in the final minute, both shooting hard and low and seeing Jalal get down well to beat their efforts away.
The first 20 minutes of the second half were even-stevens with a Deane Smalley penalty shout at one end and a Thomas shot wide on 71 at the other, but the temperature was rising by the minute as one or two boots began to fly and challenges began to become more intense.
The new defensive duo of Raynes and Wright looked rock solid, matching each other for well timed challenges and showing terrific understanding for such a new partnership, meaning that Marc Pugh's 85th minute drive over the bar was the only clear sight at goal the Cherries had in the second half. Chapman's vicious last minute free kick was tipped over the other bar by Jalal and so the game moved into extra time.
Attacking the West End first United brought on Tom Craddock for the hard working Constable, then the fresh legs of Simon Heslop for Forster-Caskey and almost found the breakthrough right on half time as Chapman cut a clever free-kick back and Craddock flashed his shot on the turn only just wide.
There were some tired legs after such a tough work-out in an opening game but there was nothing wrong with United's spirit and application and things look well set for the League season ahead. Craddock plonked one final effort over the bar with five minutes left, but by that stage two good footballing sides had fought each other almost to a standstill and the game was destined for penalties.
Craddock, Smalley, and Rigg allscored confidently, Clarke saved from Pugh, Chapman drilled home and then Batt held his nerve with a superb penalty to send United through.
Another higher division scalp in the competition United love. The draw is tomorrow lunchtime on SKY. Can't wait...
Fifty/50 ticket 232951 wins £545
Clarke, Batt, Raynes, Wright, Capaldi, Cox (Smalley 67), Chapman, Forster-Caskey (Heslop 94), Potter, Constable (Craddock 93), Rigg
Brown, McGinty, Marsh, Long
Report by Chris Williams. Pictures by Steve Daniels. Stats by PA sports