Aldershot Town 1 Ebbsfleet United 1 (Ebbsfleet win 4-5 on penalties)
Kabamba 106′ – Winfield 119′
Ebbsfleet came back from the brink of defeat three times to dramatically beat Aldershot on penalties and setup a play-off semi-final tie at Tranmere on Saturday.
Dean Rance tucked away the winning spot kick after the Shots had two opportunities to win it and were also leading until the last minute of extra-time.
Fleet boss Daryl McMahon never gave up hope of his side pulling off a major shock when staring defeat in the face. He told The NLP: “We are ecstatic with winning tie. But with 118 minutes on the clock you are talking about one chance and whether you can take it or not.
“They have two opportunities to win the tie and they didn’t take them, but we kept our composure and our belief.
“I thought we had numerous opportunities first half that we didn’t take, but I thought it was two good footballing sides having a go. Gary (Waddock) has done a brilliant job here and they are a top side with some lovely footballers, but we’re just delighted to win.”
The two sides couldn’t be separated after 90 minutes with Shots keeper Lewis Ward saving a poor second half penalty from Danny Kedwell.
The match came alive in the second period of extra-time as Nicke Kabamba finally broke the deadlock with a fine header, a minute after the restart.
It looked like Aldershot would be heading to Prenton Park but Fleet captain Dave Winfield had other ideas, nodding in a 119th minute equaliser to send the tie to penalties.
Ward saved twice from Marvin McCoy and Jack Powell to give the Shots a 3-1 lead in the shootout, and two chances to win.
But Lewis Kinsella struck the post and then Nathan Ashmore superbly kept out Fabien Robert.
In sudden death, Ward stepped up and saw his spot kick hit the post which gave Rance the opportunity to win it for Ebbsfleet, and he duly did.
Gutted Aldershot boss Gary Waddock said: “I don’t know how to sum it up, really. It’s a cruel game sometimes.
“We got ourselves into a situation to win a game and, it’s not the first time I’ve said it, we didn’t take the opportunity. When you’re up in a penalty shootout and you’re looking to finish it off and you don’t take that opportunity, it’s a difficult one.
“I think tonight’s game has summed up the season, if I’m honest. From day one, going into the season we picked up injuries, we’ve had them throughout and not been able to fill the bench. During the course of the game we picked up injuries, Jim [Kellermann] comes on and gets a nasty one.
“You’re scratching your head sometimes because what else, what other obstacle do you have to overcome? It’s a cruel one.”
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