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Jack Giddens saves two spot kicks as Bishop's Stortford beat Welwyn Garden City on penalties in Emirates FA Cup, first qualifying round

Jack Giddens was the Bishop's Stortford hero as he helped them defeat Welwyn Garden City in the Emirates FA Cup, first qualifying round on Tuesday night (September 22).

The goalkeeper saved two spot kicks as the Blues triumphed 4-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw against their Southern League, Division One Central hosts.

The Blues dominated early on and went close through Ben Marlow, before Tom Richardson was denied by a brilliant tackle and Darren Foxley dragged a shot wide.

Having held firm against an early onslaught, the hosts, who beat Saffron Walden Town in the previous round, grew into the game.

And they punished the visitors' lack of clinical finishing when George Ironton tapped home from close range from Jack Vasey's low cross from the right after 18 minutes.

As the Blues searched for a leveller before the break, Marlow shot straight at Charlie Crowley on the half-volley, Correy Davidson miscued a good chance wide and Frankie Merrifield, who was also called upon to make some important defensive contributions at the other end, stumbled over as he prepared to enter the box and shoot.

The start to the second period was cagey, with the Blues not wanting to concede again and Welwyn happy to let the clock run down. There was also a long stoppage as Stortford's Joe Gardner, who had only been on the field for five minutes, went down with a suspected hamstring injury before skipper Ryan Henshaw received treatment for a cut to his face.

Marlow was unlucky not to equalise when he struck the crossbar, but the Blues did restore parity from the next attack just before the hour mark as Foxley smashed home from close range after Crowley could only parry Merrifield's original shot from Mark Haines' long ball.

Eusebio Dasilva came off the bench for the hosts and was an energetic force in attack, making a great run on a counter-attack before blazing his shot over.

Stortford substitute Joe Boachie could have twice sealed the tie for his side, but he miscontrolled Marlow's left-wing cross from close range before having a goal disallowed for offside.

With both sides pushing for a winner late on, there were fouls and free kicks aplenty, with Welwyn's Thomas Opoku testing Giddens in the middle of the goal.

From another Welwyn free kick, Giddens came to punch the ball away and got nowhere near it, but he was relieved to see Carl Mensah, who had the whole goal to aim at, somehow put his header wide from a yard out.

Giddens then kept out Dasilva's header before, at the other end, Foxley had the last chance of the game as his deflected long-range effort had Crowley scrambling.

With no extra time or replays in this season's competition, the tie went to penalties.

Foxley, Louie Johnson, Boachie and Marlow all scored for the Blues while Giddens kept out efforts from Jack Bradshaw and Mensah to secure a 4-2 shootout win.

Steve Smith's men will find out their second qualifying round opponents in Friday's draw (September 25) and the tie is scheduled for Saturday October 3.

Welwyn: Crowley, Bradshaw, Sexton, Opoku (Awkasi 87), Close, Mensah, Tshikala (Buchanan 56), Keenleyside, Vasey (Dasilva 59), Walklin, Ironton. Not used: Payne, Podier, De Matos.

Blues: Giddens, Mvemba, Thomas, Robbins, Henshaw, Davidson (Gardner 56, Boachie 61), Marlow, Richardson (Johnson 81), Merrifield, Foxley, Haines. Not used: Mullings, Jones, Smith.

Attendance: 210.

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