MANAGER Ian Long was relieved after his side beat Sporting Khalsa 4-3 on penalties last night following 120 minutes of deadlock at The Beeches and progressing to the Semi-Final stage of the JW Hunt Cup.
Tivi will now face Alvechurch at a neutral venue in the Semi-Final of the competition as Long’s men aim to defend the trophy they won at Molineux in May 2014, coincidentally against Sporting Khalsa.
The score was locked at 0-0 after the regulation 90 minutes, and after a fruitless 30 minute period of extra-time, the game was to be decided by a penalty shoot-out with former Tivi man Timothy Jackson missing the final penalty for Sporting Khalsa in sudden death.
Dale welcomed their apponents to the field with a Guard of Honour ahead of the tie after Ian Rowe’s side claimed the West Midlands (Regional) Premier League title this season, and Long was full of praise for longstanding friend Rowe and his team.
He said “I thought we were very disappointing for long periods, and we lost far too many battles across the pitch throughout the game.
“Both sides lacked quality in the final third on the night and I could only see either team scoring from a set-piece, I have to say.
“But great credit to ‘Rowey’ and his players because they came here and did well. They probably edged the tie overall and showed a little more desire, and it’s not very often I say that about my own team.
“I was disappointed the referee never awarded the penalty on David Bellis after just ten minutes, and Chris Field had a very strong claim for a penalty late in the regulation 90 minutes which again the referee failed to spot.
“Some of my players looked tired, and I’m not overly surprised by that given the vigorous schedule we’ve faced in recent weeks in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South.
“I’m pleased to have won the tie, we knew it was going to be a difficult game and can now look forward to the Semi-Final with Alvechurch.
And the former Tipton boss is now preparing for tomorrow’s final Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South fixture of the 2014-15 campaign against Market Drayton Town at The Beeches (KO 15:00).
Long added “We’ve had a terrific season, the players have been fantastic all in all. We’re twelve games unbeaten in the league – it would be nice to finish off with three points in front of our own supporters.”