02:26PM, Tuesday 20 April 2021
Flackwell Heath’s players kept alive their dream of playing at Wembley after Saturday’s dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Lancing in the FA Vase.
Goalkeeper Aaron Watkins was the hero for Richardson’s side, saving two penalties as the Heathens won the shoot-out 4-2 to book their place in the last 16.
He saved well from Lew Finney and Darius Goldsmith and Flackwell were successful with all of their kicks with James Essex netting the decisive fourth.
The game went straight to a penalty shootout having finished 1-1 following a gruelling 90 minutes for both sides in what was their first competitive clash for several months.
Richardson admitted he couldn’t watch the shoot-out which was forced after Khalid Simmo’s close range finish was cancelled out by the home side.
“I’m getting emotional just thinking about it,” said Richardson. “Watkins is a massive figure in that goal, and it must be a scary sight for people taking a penalty against him. He came through for us. He’s a big guy who fills the goal, an intimidating presence.
Always nice to play a part ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/zj6qBT56iw— Aaron - W - Watkins (@AaronWatto1) April 17, 2021
“I’ll be honest with you I didn’t watch it (the shootout). I had to turn my back and didn’t know we’d won until I heard us celebrate.
“They haven’t taken part in a lot of penalty shootouts, and usually we would have got the job done in normal time. We had quite a few chances.”
Despite dominating the tie on chances created, Richardson admitted Lancing shaded it in terms of possession, and they struggled to get a handle on the home side’s left fullback Mo Juwara, who equalised for the home side just before half-time.
Richardson was impressed with the defender’s solid tackling and driving runs down the left flank, but not as impressed as he was with his own side’s character and determination to claim their place in the next round.
“We conducted ourselves in a very professional manner,” he said. “I was lost for words on Saturday, very emotional, so I’m glad that you called me today.
“I’m emotional to see how well the lads are doing at the moment and how they stepped up for this game, coming back from rustiness with only two and a half weeks to prepare for it.
“We fell asleep a little bit for their goal, and their left fullback was quality for them. He was bloody annoying and gave us lots of problems. They edged possession but we created the better chances and Khalid could have walked off with a hat-trick.”
He added: “We’re getting towards the business end of the competition now and every team will be thinking it might be their year. It’s most kids’ dream to walk out at Wembley and we’ve just got to keep believing in ourselves and working hard towards achieving that goal.”
They’ll visit Plymouth Parkway of the Western League Premier Division in the last 16 this Saturday (April 24), and should they come through that would face another trip to either Tavistock or United Services Portsmouth in the quarter finals on May 1.
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