FOOTBALL: Fairford denied semi final place after nine-goal thriller
Updated 11:11pm Wednesday 2nd April 2014 in Sport
FAIRFORD Town missed out on a place in the Flying Press Floodlit Cup semi finals after a 5-4 extra-time defeat to North Leigh United on Tuesday night.
Flying Press Hellenic Floodlit Cup Quarter Final
North Leigh 5
Fairford Town 4
The Reds were 3-1 up at the break and should have seen the game out, but a spirited display from the home side saw them draw level before turning the game around in extra time.
Fairford handed a full debut to on-loan Swindon Town youth team goalkeeper Aaron Moody, but the stopper had little to do in the first period as his new team-mates dominated the opening exchanges.
Dan Bailey brought a fine save out of home keeper Kane Lewis 11 minutes in before a powerful finish from Alex Rudd put Fairford into the lead eight minutes later.
Good work from youngster Cameron McLarty out wide saw the ball played across to Bailey who finished well for the second goal and it looked like the Reds had one foot in the next stage of the competition.
Matt Clarke, a professional at Swindon during Paolo Di Canio's County Ground tenure, reduced the arrears on 34 minutes with a low finish from close range before the talking point of the match arrived.
A shot from inside the box was handled by Jozef Fullerton on the line with the referee pointing to the spot, but only produced a caution.
Once the protests had calmed, Nathan Gambling sent Lewis the wrong way from the spot to restore Fairford's two-goal advantage.
Safe handling from Moody before the break kept the home side at bay with the Reds looking good value for their lead.
After the interval North Leigh rallied and, as Fairford had done in the first period, made the most of playing up the slope (eight out of the nine goals on the night were scored in that direction).
Jacob Hughes made it 3-2 with a shot that squeezed inside Moody's near post before a dipping volley from Rudd at the other end shaved the crossbar.
Fullerton, involved in the penalty furore earlier in the game, powered home a cross from the right to earn parity for North Leigh and ultimately send the game into extra time.
Midfielder Ian Sutherland, having come off the bench for the visitors, saw his cross from the left turned into his own net by North Leigh captain Alfie Saunders nine minutes into the first half of extra time to restore Fairford's lead.
Once again playing up the slope seemed to do the trick as the home side turned the game around in the second period. George Seacole, who had an impressive evening overall, slid home on 118 minutes to make it 4-4 before a close range finish from Connor Robins four minutes later turned the lights out on Fairford's hopes of reaching the last four.
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