FOOTBALL: HIGHGATE lost the lead three times to allow Birmingham City the chance to come back and claim a penalty shootout victory to progress in the Birmingham FA Senior Cup.
Saturday’s entertaining second round clash was full of twists and turns and ended 3-3 but it was Birmingham who held their nerve from the spot to win it 4-2 on penalties.
Visiting manager Richard Beale paid Highgate the compliment of bringing a strong Under-23 side to the Coppice and the Birmingham Senior Cup tie attracted a sizeable crowd on a typically dank November evening.
Gate were on the back foot early on but having survived considerable pressure they went close to a 20th minute opener when McCauley Manning cut inside to unleash a shot which came back out off the face of the beaten Jake Weaver’s cross bar.
The home side took a 37th minute lead when the bandaged Scott Turner headed in a Josh Hawker free kick.
The advantage was cancelled out a minute later by Jack Storer’s deflected effort which completely wrong-footed keeper Brendon Bunn.
Despite Manning striking the woodwork for a second time off Aaron Brown’s pass it remained one apiece at the break.
The hosts went ahead for a second time when in the 56th minute Elliot Kibbie could do nothing to prevent an unfortunate own goal off Marco Adaggio’s cross.
Five minutes later Bunn saved well from Ollie Mulder only for Oliver McCoy to restore parity with a simple tap in off the rebound. Bunn produced another excellent save after Beryly Lubala had been set up by Tom Anderson and Gate responded with a third goal when James Loney scrambled the ball in after Weaver had parried Turner’s header over the face of goal.
With just seven minutes remaining the stubborn visitors levelled for a third time after Storer was fouled but advantage was played and Wes McDonald lobbed the advancing Bunn.
McDonald had the chance to put the game to bed in normal time after breaking clear only to fire wide and Gate literally paid the penalty from the spot as McDonald completed the scoring to see Gate’s local cup competitions dented for the first time.