Gavin Cowan’s side were unable to find a way past their step three opponents despite putting them under continuous pressure for the last 25 minutes of the game, and ultimately that proved their undoing. They also hit the frame of the goal twice within that spell but had to go through a nerve shredding penalty shootout that went to a tenth round of kick before Adam Walker’s effort was saved by Sam Donkin in the Leiston goal to give them victory by 9 kicks to 8.
Leiston played largely on the counter-attack and got men behind the ball in numbers, making the Bucks task difficult. Despite that, the hosts did also pose some threat to the goal, and Shane Sutton collected an early booking as Leiston looked to get behind the Bucks defence. James Hardy was the orchestrator of many of the Bucks attacking moves, and both sides flashed efforts across goal that begged a final touch but didn’t get one.
Level at the interval, the Bucks sought to shake things up in the second half, withdrawing starting strikers Aaron Williams and Jason Oswell; that was the catalyst for the Bucks to lay siege to the Leiston goal in the game’s final quarter, with substitutes Jordan Davies and Dom McHale prominent.
Adam Walker fired a shot straight at Donkin, then hit the angle of post and bar as the game entered the final ten minutes. Minutes later Hardy hit the base of the post, fooling Donkin by dragging his shot but unable to beat the frame of the goal.
Leiston withstood the battering, and the pouring rain, to take the match to the lottery of penalty kicks. Courtney Meppen-Walters for the Bucks and the hosts Liam Jackson each had kicks saved as the initial five kicks finished 4-4. Five more kicks per team followed until the fates decided that Walker was to be the evening’s fall guy; Donkin dived low to his left to push away his low effort across the sodden surface and the Bucks fell victim to a Suffolk punch.
Bucks: Griffiths, Streete, Sutton (c), Meppen-Walter, Vaughan, Cowans, Byrne, Walker, Hardy, Williams (McHale 70), Oswell (Davies 55).
Unused substitutes: Rawlins, Lilly, Barnes-Homer, Bower, Scott.
Leiston: Donkin, Hammond (Eaton-Collins 59), Saunders, Keys, Richardson, Weaire, Barnes, Eagle, Davies, Switters (Jackson 90), Wilkinson (Hitter 83).
Unused substitutes: Richardson, Bailey-Dennis, Godbold, Potter.
Referee: Callum Walchester.
Assistants: Paul Burnham, Emily Heaslip.