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Alfie Bendle celebrates in front of Corinthian-Casuals' fans

Casuals moments away from history in FA Cup penalties heartbreak

Corinthian-Casuals were moments away from making history after taking hosts St Albans City to penalties in a 1-1 draw in their FA Cup fourth qualifying round replay last night.

Casuals forced extra time as Ben Cheklit coolly rounded the keeper with seven minutes remaining, following Saints teenager Huw Dawson’s first goal for his club just after half-time.

The Isthmian League Premier Division side managed to withstand late pressure to send the tie to penalties but fell short of reaching the FA Cup first round for the first time since 1983, and only the third time in their history, after a 4-2 shoot-out defeat.

Belgian winger Cheklit, 27, praised his team’s performance and said they were disappointed after two impressive displays against National League South promotion hopefuls.

He said: “We created enough chances to win both games but couldn’t put them away and that’s a shame.

“However, we’ve played eight games in the FA Cup this season with no losses so that’s something we’ve got to now take into the league.

“We’ve got a few games in hand and if we bring that same standard we know we can reach consistently I think we’ll exceed everyone’s expectations of us.”

The amateur team from Tolworth were unlucky not to have already set up a lucrative home tie with League Two leaders Forest Green Rovers when St Albans bundled in a last-minute equaliser at King George’s Field on Saturday.

Alan Pardew and Andy Gray started for Corinth in their last first round appearance against Bristol City 38 years ago and both were in attendance during the original tie which saw an exceptional performance from the Kingston-based club – also a 1-all draw.

St Albans manager Ian Allinson admitted his side were second best that day, with the equaliser their only shot on target.

He said: “They were better than us and deserved to win the game.

“We got away with it in the end.”

Third-from-bottom Casuals’ next fixture sees them host Hornchurch FC in the Isthmian Premier this Saturday (23 October).

Featured image credit: Stuart Tree

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