Grace does it again! Binfield triumph in FA Vase shootout

Chris Grace celebrates another penalty save for Binfield FC. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com
Chris Grace celebrates another penalty save for Binfield FC. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com

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Chris Grace was Binfield’s hero for the second successive Saturday as they booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Buildbase FA Vase for the first time in their history.

The big keeper made a crucial save that earned his side a 5-4 win on penalties against Hanley after the fifth-round tie had ended goalless. A week earlier, Grace had kept out two penalties in the triumph at Fakenham.

The Moles now go to Midland League side Long Eaton United next Saturday, their fourth successive away game in this season’s competition.

As one would expect, there are no easy games at this late stage and Barnet-based Hadley proved stubborn opponents.

Both sides treated each other with respect and it was a close game throughout.

DRAW: The full FA Vase Quarter Final draw

Binfield captain Sean Moore. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com
Binfield captain Sean Moore. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com

It was the drabbest tie in their tremendous run, but playing entertaining football was not important; it was all about winning and edging ever closer to Wembley.

The result could have gone either way, but in the end, Binfield were the worthy winners.

Looking to avoid conceding an early goal as they had in their previous two ties, they made a bright start and skipper Sean Moore squandered a good chance of giving them the lead following good work by Josh Helmore.

The Essex Senior League side’s main threat came from Solomon Ofori. After outpacing the defence, he was denied by the legs of Grace and saw another effort loop onto the crossbar.

Binfield had a couple of late opportunities but were unable to breakthrough even when they were up against only 10 of the Bricks with Dwayne Duncan shown a straight red card for a nasty-looking challenge on George Short six minutes from time.

Binfield's Josh Howell. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com
Binfield’s Josh Howell. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com

So once again, the Moles were involved in a nerve-racking penalty shoot-out, but once again they knew what was required from 12 yards.

Josh Howell, who had earlier come off the bench to replace Helmore, Short and Moore netted for the Moles with Hadley replying each time before Billy Baird fired his attempt over the top.

Jamie McClurg scored a fourth for his side, but Liam Ferdinand failed to hit the target, adding further tension to the proceedings and the hosts’ Peter Wright squared things up to take the shoot-out to sudden death.

Liam Gavin kept his cool to put the men in white back in front at 5-4 before Grace denied Ofori by diving to his left to save and spark scenes of jubilation in the Moles camp.

Liam Gavin and Chris Grace celebrate Binfield's win. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com
Liam Gavin and Chris Grace celebrate Binfield’s win. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com

Days like these will never be forgotten by the Hill Farm Lane club, and it’s a great shame they can not be shared by their supporters.

The Berks & Bucks FA and Uhlsport Hellenic League will be doubly represented in the Vase last eight as Flackwell Heath are also through after winning 4-2 at Plymouth Parkway. Marcus Richardson’s men now visit United Services Portsmouth this coming Saturday.

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