Gateshead manager Neil Aspin was left to rue missed chances as his side were knocked out of the FA Trophy by Vanarama National League rivals FC Halifax Town.
After a stalemate in the original game between the two sides, there was no separating them in Wednesday night’s replay on Tyneside, with the tie going past extra time and into a penalty shoot out.
Heed skipper Ben Clark smashed his spot kick over the bar and hand Matty Brown the chance to send the Shaymen into a two-legged semi final against Evo-Stik Northern Premier League side Nantwich Town.
Brown successfully converted his penalty and left Aspin to reflect on what might have been, after his side missed several chances to seal the tie heading into the closing stages of normal time.
He said “In the second-half of normal time, I thought we played well.
“Obviously, we had numerous chances to put the game beyond doubt. We probably had more chances tonight than we’ve had in any other game at home since I’ve been here.
“We’ve thrown it away
“The defending for their [second] equaliser was terrible. The ball has travelled 70 or 80 yards and we haven’t dealt with it.
“But, in cup competitions, you have to think sometimes that it isn’t meant to be, and tonight was one of those occasions.
“I’ve been in football for a long time, and you get nights like this where you feel very disappointed, but you have to try and move on.
“It’s an awful way to go out, but you have to pick yourselves up and get on with it”
However, Aspin tried to search for the positives in the Heed performance, on a miserable night on Tyneside.
Midfielder Josh Gillies stepped up his return from injury by completing one hundred and twenty minutes, scoring two goals in the process.
Aspin praised the performance of the former St Mirren winger and his fellow wideman CJ Hamilton, after the young winger tormented the Shaymen defence with his pace.
“There were actually a lot of things that pleased me tonight, particularly the way we created chances.
“Josh Gillies hasn’t had a lot of football lately, but he scored two goals. CJ Hamilton played very well and showed a lot of character in stepping up to take the first penalty.
“The two centre-halves lasted the 120 minutes and Paddy McLaughlin was excellent in midfield”
The defeat had extra meaning for Aspin, who spent six years as a player and manager with the Shaymen.
The fifty year old shrugged off the notion that it would hurt more because he had lost to his form club by admitting “I’d have been disappointed losing to anyone”.
“There were a lot of good points, and it’s totally irrelevant that we lost to my former club – I’d have been disappointed losing to anyone after dominating the game and losing on penalties.
“There are many things you could analyse from the game, but the top and bottom of it is that we had enough chances to win the game, should have won the game, but we haven’t.”