BROMSGROVE Sporting manager Paul Smith praised his players for showing a desire to win after throwing away what seemed an unassailable 3-0 lead against Coventry United.
Guy Clark, Richard Gregory and Jason Cowley had fired the Rouslers into a comfortable lead after the first 45 minutes but nobody would have predicted what happened next.
Lewis Rankin pulled one back with 11 minutes to go before an own-goal from Daniel Morris in the first minute of stoppage time set up a very nervy finish.
And with the very last kick of the game United levelled through Gift Mussa to force extra-time.
No goals followed after a further 30 minutes which sent the tie to spot-kicks where Sporting eventually prevailed, with Max Loveridge hitting the winner.
“It was an unbelievable game,” said Smith.
“It was always going to be a game of two halves with the strong wind and it was important we got an advantage before the break.
“We had enough chances to be four or five goals ahead and we played some outstanding stuff.
“But when they scored with the last kick it was a horrible pill to swallow.
“It was hard to get the lads back up but they showed great desire to find a way to win.
“It is always a lottery when it gets to penalties as your fate is in the lap of the gods but it was great to get through.”
Sporting got off to a flying start as they took the lead after four minutes when Robbie Bunn’s corner was bundled over by Clark.
Both sides exchanged blows for the next ten minutes but it was Sporting who doubled their lead when Josh Quaynor’s corner was nodded home from close range by Gregory.
Cowley then had an effort scrambled off the line at the half hour mark but the striker got on the scoresheet nine minutes later when his free-kick floated over the wall into the far corner.
There was no surprise that United came out for the second half all fired up with captain Craig Jones having to clear a Craig Reid effort off the line in the 53rd minute while Jack Jeys fired over six minutes later.
The hosts continued to pile on the pressure with Lewis Rankin pulling one back with a fine free-kick before an unfortunate Morris could only divert a corner into his own net to set up a tense finale.
And the comeback was complete in the fifth minute of stoppage time when another scramble in the box allowed Mussa to send the tie to extra-time.
United continued to stay on top with Aaron Opoku hitting the post while Reece Francis had to make three good saves to force the penalty shoot-out.
The first three rounds were all converted before Jeys and Jones had efforts saved.
Rankin blazed wide and then John Pykett hit the post with what would have been the winning penalty.
Francis then saved expertly from Opoku, leaving Loveridge the hero as he scored the winner with a low drive into the right-hand corner.
Match report details provided by Phil Baker.