Second division mid-table side Ayton pulled off the shock of the season by knocking holders Trafalgar out of the Kenward Cup, player-boss Mark Plumpton slotting in the winning spot-kick in a 5-4 penalty shoot-out success after the scores had been tied at 2-2.
The visitors only had nine players to start with and the home side took full advantage with Mike Grayshan putting them ahead after fine work from the lively Tyson Stubbings after just five minutes.
Liam Salt’s top-flight side then brought their numbers up to 10 players and this seemed to wake them up as they levelled through Chris Dove and took the lead with a stooping header from Jamie Patterson at the far post.
Ayton refused to submit though and grabbed a deserved leveller before half-time thanks to a powerful 30-yard cross-shot from Grayshan on the right flank.
After the break the hosts still created chances against Traf, who now had 11 men, but it was the visiting team who had the clearest chance to win it, being awarded a penalty 10 minutes from time.
Shaun Dodson stepped up to take the spot-kick but skied his effort over the crossbar, and in the final minute Niall Prentice shot straight at the Traf keeper when in a one-on-one situation.
Dodson made up for his earlier miss by netting the opening spot-kick in the shoot-out, with Stubbings making it 1-1. Neil Thomas put Traf 2-1 up and when Prentice missed his penalty it put the holders in charge.
This advantage did not last long as Patterson’s shot was saved and Ryan Wilson scored Ayton’s third effort to bringing it back to 2-2.
Grayshan made it 3-2 to Ayton, Joel Ramm levelled for Traf and then keeper Joe Mills put Ayton 4-3 ahead Dove replying to bring it to 4-4 and taken the shoot-out into sudden-death.
Traf keeper Chris Ferrey missed his penalty, leaving Plumpton with the chance to fire his side to a famous victory and he made no mistake, sparking wild celebrations among the Ayton contingent.
Plumpton said: “This is the best-ever performance from any team I have managed, they were superb and gave their all.
“It is the proudest moment i have ever had in football.”
Traf chief Liam Salt said: “Even with nine men we should have probably beaten Ayton, but you have to give them credit as they worked very hard for each other throughout the cup-tie.
“We were that below-par that I cannot even think of a man of the match.”
Another cup shock saw second division side Roscoe’s Bar win 2-0 at home to division one strugglers Commercial, and Roscoes will now face Ayton in the semi-finals of the Kenward Cup.
A scrappy first half saw Commercial edge the play with the wind at their backs on a heavy pitch, but a couple of fine saves from Roscoe’s keeper George Allen maintained the goalless scoreline by half-time.
The home side came into the game more after the break and took the lead on 70 minutes when Carl Hepples played a pinpoint ball through the defence for Matty Rowley to run clear and dink over the Commercial keeper.
Five minutes later Gary Hepples squared the ball to Matty Rowley, who drilled the ball from the edge of the area into the far corner.
With five minutes remaining Martin Hadrick’s shot took a wicked deflection off Sean Rowley and hit the stanchion of the goal and back out but no goal was given.
Roscoe’s Bar boss Lee Paterson said: “Overall we deserved to win, we were solid all over the pitch today. Allen made great saves at 0-0 but credit has to go to all the team as we never stopped battling on a difficult pitch.”
Commercial chief Geoff Osguthorpe added: “Roscoe’s Bar did very well in the second half and took their chances well whereas we seemed to slip out of the game after a promising first half.”
West Pier booked a semi-final meeting with Newlands Park after a 6-1 home win against Whitby Wanderers.
Travis Wood and Cam Dobson struck to put the hosts 2-0 up at the break, and Dobson completed his hat-trick after the break as Pier raced into a 5-0 lead, Ryan Baldry smashing in a 30-yarder for their fourth effort.
Simon Taylor latched onto a Jimmy Landers pass to fire in a consolation for the Wanderers, Rob Speight adding a sixth for Pier late on.
Central midfielder Lloyd Henderson was the Pier man of the match, while centre-back Steve Ross was the star man for Wanderers.