Buckingham Athletic lost on penalties to Burton Park Wanderers after two dramatic and action-packed games in the first qualifying round of the FA Vase this week.
Athletic made the trip to UCL Division One side Burton on Saturday and made a bright start with Ben Cutting heading wide on 12 minutes as the visitors dominated possession.
Disaster then struck for Athletic, however, as the hosts broke free and goalkeeper Ben Grasso hauled down Lee Chapman when one-on-one resulting in a free-kick and a red card.
With no goalkeeper on the bench, Frankie Tarrant volunteered to go in goal for the visitors, who had to withstand a period of pressure before taking a shock lead when Dave O’Dell headed in Dearlove’s free-kick.
Athletic were unfortunate not to be two ahead when Alex Woodfine’s header appeared to have crossed the line, only for the officials to wave play on, before Chapman’s diving header brought the sides level.
With neither side able to find a winner in normal time, the game went to an extra 30 minutes and it took Burton just three minutes to go ahead through Liam Nicell, but Chris Davies smashed home a late leveller to set up a replay.
Tuesday’s replay at Stratford Fields proved just as dramatic, with Athletic again starting well and taking a deserved when Davies rounded the goalkeeper and fired home on 26 minutes.
Dave O’Dell’s penalty doubled the lead and seemingly put Athletic in total control, but Burton immediately fought back to trail by just one at the break before the visitors once again forced extra-time with a goal 15 minutes from full-time.
The score remained at 2-2 at the end of the first period of extra-time, but Athletic’s Phil Martin appeared to have grabbed a dramatic late winner just three minutes from time.
Burton refused to give up, though, and the visitors were rewarded for their perseverance when a last-gasp equaliser sent the game to penalties.
Two Buckingham misses in the shoot-out proved costly as the visitors ran out 4-2 winners to progress into the next round.
Buckingham Athletic Reserves, meanwhile, enjoyed a 6-0 victory over Old Bradwell United to continue their unbeaten start. Dan Booden hit a hat-trick while Matt Cruse, Adam Robinson and Josh Whitehead also got on the score sheet.
The youth team also continued their good start to the season with a 4-1 win at Kidlington. Matt Cruse and Jamie O’Hara both bagged a brace.
This weekend, the first team travel to Clean Slate in the Berks & Bucks Intermediate Cup.