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FA Cup 2nd Round Replay: Accrington Stanley 0 Bournemouth 0 (aet, Stanley win 5-3 on pens)

"IF I had thought about how many people were watching, I would never have taken it." - Paul Howarth admitted he had to keep his cool as he stepped up to take the dramatic penalty which sealed this epic FA Cup win for the Reds.

"IF I had thought about how many people were watching, I would never have taken it."

Paul Howarth admitted he had to keep his cool as he stepped up to take the dramatic penalty which sealed the epic FA Cup win for the Reds against Second Division Bourne-mouth in the shoot-out. The new hero held his nerve in front of a live Sky television audience, thousands listening on the radio and 2,500 there to slot home the vital spot kick - and the jubilant Reds can now look forward to a home FA Cup third round date with Second Division Colchester.

"I just knew I would score - I don't know why," said the 22-year-old. "Cooky said their lad didn't look confident and he told me it was set up for me after the week I had had. Once I hit it I knew it was in the back of the net. It was only 12 yards after all - I should score from that! I know in the final minutes of extra-time I was aching from top to bottom but once we the penalties got going, we were all ready!"

Regular penalty taker Lutel James admitted it was hard especially as he took the first spot-kick following the goalless 120 minutes. "I just wanted it over and done with. I was dead on my feet!" admitted the striker.

The lively Warren Feeney equalised and then it was Rory Prendergast's turn. The winger had won the penalty shoot-out in training midweek and at first it was Paul Cook who was going to take number two. Instead Prendergast volunteered and with a nifty spin in his run up slotted home the second.

"Neil Redfearn, one of my heroes, always does a turn before he takes a penalty so I have always done it," admitted Prendergast - everyone was just relieved it came off!

Brian Stock was cool to make it 2-2 before Stanley substitute Steve Flitcroft hit it straight down the middle. Garreth O'Connor made it 3-3 - although sub keeper Jon Kennedy dived the right way and came close to keeping out that one. And then skipper Peter Cavanagh had a few Stanley hearts in their mouths when he did a little shuffle in his run up - but he said he was waiting to see if the keeper moved - and he got it right too.

And then you have to feel some sympathy for Karl Broadhurst - how high was that penalty? Of Chris Waddle proportions and the Stanley fans behind the goal went wild as the Reds just needed the last spot-kick.

It didn't matter who stepped up next as the whole crowd held there breath and when Howarth did the shouts of "Come on Paul" were pleading with him to seal the victory. And the full back didn't let them down. He was always confident and in it went to spark the mad rush to the corner flag for the beginning of the celebrations.

This time last month, Howarth would never have imagined he would have been such a big part of Stanley's epic win after a number of seasons on the sidelines - and that the national media would be clamouring to talk to him.

"I guess it is odd but I have always been confident in my ability and I knew once I had my chance I had to take it," said the trainee finacnial advisor. "But there were five penalty takers and each and every one of the lads were fantastic. As were the fans - we are just proud to give them something to remember."

It is hard to put into words what it meant to the players, the club and the town - and it was a night to remember.

Bournemouth, fresh from their Fitness First Stadium, must have wondered where they had come to as the frost descended on East Lancashire. But they did create the early chances through the huge Steve Fletcher and Wade Elliott.

The Reds' defence however was fantastic with Howarth doing enough to hassle Feeney and prevent him racing through for a certain goal on 25 minutes. Robbie Williams did the same ten minutes later to force Cherries hitman Feeney wide and, from a sharp angle, Jamie Speare was able to save his effort. Stanley looked sharp on the break - especially James, Cook and Procter - but lacked the final ball.

After the break, Speare was called into action superbly denying Steve Fletcher and then, after what seemed like a foul on Williams, Fletcher raced free again but the Cherries shooting was once again poor as he fired across the goal and wide.

Feeney turned on the volley but Speare saved again and then sub James Hayter beat the off-side trap but again cracked the ball well over. And Steve Halford had to make a stunning tackle to deny Steve Purches as the minutes ticked away. But, in the last 10 minutes, Stanley could have snatched it. Prendergast set Paul Mullin up in dying minutes but Neil Moss tipped his fierce effort over.

Andy Procter had a great chance from the resulting corner after Moss had flapped at his initial header but his team mate Halford got in the way of the goalbound effort. And Procter's bullet header was then saved by Moss in the final minute. But there was still time for Feeney to fire inches wide when it looked easier to score in normal injury time.

Stanley matched Bournemouth effort for effort in extra time and it was amazing that the part-timers never stopped. And Flitcroft could have snatched it on the edge of the area but Moss once again produced a stunning save. And then a big gasp went up as on came new keeper Kennedy for star Speare - a huge gamble by Coleman - while top scorer Paul Mullin also went off in a double subsitution.

"I have always believed in bringing on a fresh keeper and it is the first time I have had the opportunity to do it," said Coleman. "It was no slight on Jamo and I thought it might unsettle them a little bit as they would wonder what it was all about. And I took off our leading goalscorer. Mind you I don't think Paul would have taken one even if we had held a gun to his head - he wouldn't have wanted to and he wouldn't have reached anyway!"

Coleman admitted to being someone shell-shocked by the whole night.

"It was really exciting but the penalties were nerve-racking. I kept thinking of my wife watching it in Lanzarote and cringing for her as she would be going through it. But they are a good side and it was cruel on them. But that is penalties - one side has to win, one lose and fortunately we were on the right side of it.

"It was a good contest, there was no animosity and they never led us for three-and-half hours. All the lads were magnificent. I didn't have any doubts with the penalties.

"I have this superstition where I say Lutel is going to miss from the penalty spot because he always scores! And I was delighted for Paul Howarth. He got his first goal for the club on Saturday and now has scored an important penalty.

"We showed tremendous character and spirit and we showed we can defend when we set our minds to it - you wouldn't think it was the same bunch of lads who had let in five so easily against Telford. Now we have got to transfer this into the Conference and get more consistency and make a concerted effort for the play-offs."


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