RYMAN LEAGUE CUP QUARTER FINAL: Lewes 1 AFC Sudbury (Lewes won 5-4 on pens)
RIKKI Banks turned Rooks’ hero on Wednesday night, saving two penalties in a shoot-out against AFC Sudbury to book the club a first ever Ryman League Cup semi-final place.
The stopper, at the Dripping Pan on-loan in his second spell at the club, further endeared himself to the Lewes fans after an entertaining 90 minutes of cup football.
The visitors took a first half lead through Robbie Martin but The Rooks were back on level terms before half-time thanks to a Matt Somner header.
The hosts had the better chances after the break but neither side could find a winner, and with the tie going straight to penalties, Lewes had Banks to thank for securing their place in the last four.
After a lively start from both sides Banks had to be alert to beat away visiting skipper James Baker’s shot from the edge of the box, and then Rhys Darg blazed over when unmarked in the Lewes area.
Sudbury settled into the game the better with their slick passing making the Rooks midfield chase shadows as the news of permanent manager Steve King’s departure filtered through the Dripping Pan crowd.
Lewes did improve as the half progressed and only the upright of Danny Gay’s goal prevented striker Michael Malcolm from giving them the lead. Ciardini then shaved the woodwork from Harry Harding’s ball through before Sudbury went ahead, Robbie Martin chipping Banks from just inside the box.
An injury to Lewis Hamilton saw him replaced by Albert Jarrett, and Lewes got back on level terms before half-time when Christian Nanetti’s cross to the near post was headed in by Somner.
Jarrett so nearly put Rooks ahead at the start of the second half, but his strike was blocked on the line and Paul Booth then went close with a drive after cutting in from the wing.
Rooks tails were now up, and the home faithful were convinced their team deserved a penalty when Harding went down in the box, the referee though only gave a corner.
Malcolm then fired well wide when put clean through by Booth, and a second penalty was then denied the hosts when Nanetti went down seemingly inside the box. The decision – a free kick outside.
Nanetti’s long-range strike wasn’t far wide and Malcolm was then guilty of another bad miss, this time from six yards from Jarett’s pass.
Booth went down but a third penalty appeal was turned down, but with the visitors coming back into the game Baker missed a free header six yards out.
Still there was time for Malcolm to miss another decent chance as the tie went straight to penalties.
Max Hustwick, Ian Draycott and Harding all scored before skipper Steve Robinson had his spot kick saved, but Banks then saved the next one leaving it evenly posed at 3-3.
Ciardini and Jarrett both netted and with Rooks 5-4 up, Banks made his second save of the shoot-out to put Lewes into their first Ryman League Cup semi-final.
LEWES: Rikki Banks, Malvin Kamara, Lewis Hamilton, Matt Somner, Steve Robinson ©, Max Hustwick, Nic Ciardini, Harry Harding, Michael Malcolm, Paul Booth, Christian Nanetti.
SUBS: Ian Draycott, Albert Jarrett, Alex Stavrinou, Max Howell, Charlie Leach.
AFC: Danny Gay, Adam Dalby, Ashley Sloots, Robbie Martin, Nathan Clarke, Jemel Fox, Richard Howell, Ryan Henshaw, James Baker ©, Rhys Darg, Danny Emmanuel.
SUBS: Jacob Brown, Luke Nicoll, Ryan Swallow, Ben Tracey.
REF: Lee Venamore. ATT: 266.