FC Halifax Town will face Nantwich Town in the semi-finals of The FA Trophy following a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Gateshead at the Gateshead International Stadium.
The scores were level at 3-3 following an enthralling 120 minutes of end-to-end action, before Matty Brown struck the decisive spot-kick which saw The Shaymen prevail 5-4.
Shaquille McDonald had the chance to put Town through earlier in the shoot-out, but saw his penalty saved and agonisingly come back off the post, after Sam Johnson had excellently kept out Danny Johnson’s effort.
Josh Gillies had given the hosts an early lead, while Kingsley James 11th goal of the season made it 1-1 at half-time. Ryan Bowman tapped home from close-range after the interval, before Connor Hughes chipped Sam Russell in the dying seconds to take the game to extra time.
McDonald made it 3-2 with his second goal for Town but Gilles added his second of the match half way through extra time to ensure the tie would be decided on penalties.
Town headed into the match yet to concede a goal in the FA Trophy this season, while Gateshead had only lost once in 12, boasting a six game unbeaten run at home which included five wins.
Jim Harvey made two changes to the team that played out the 0-0 stalemate at The Shay on Saturday, with Jordan Burrow replacing Billy Whitehouse, while Kevin Roberts returned to the starting eleven having served his one-game ban.
The Shaymen’s six hour spell without conceding a goal in the competition lasted just three further minutes, as CJ Hamilton cut through Town’s defence with his electric pace.
It was from the ex-Shaymen’s run and cutback that Gateshead opened the scoring, as Gillies latched onto the deflected pass and fired low into the far corner.
A quickly taken free-kick caught Gateshead out by surprise, but nobody was on the end of James Bolton's fine cross to threaten for the visitors. Meanwhile early Heed substitute Rob Ramshaw could only shoot wide of Johnson’s goal.
Town found their leveller in the 22nd minute with their first attempt on target, as Richard Peniket worked some space before crossing to an unmarked James, who rifled in with a fierce low drive from 12 yards.
Both sides missed glorious opportunities to take the lead before half-time, with the first chance falling to the hosts as the rain lashed down. After Hamilton burst past Town’s defence down the left hand side once more, Ramshaw failed to convert from inside the area following Hamilton’s clever pass.
At the other end Scott McManus’ wonderful delivery found Burrow six yards out, but The Shaymen’s top-scorer witnessed his glancing header come back off the post, ensuring the score remained level at the break.
In a similarly fashioned quick start to the second half, Gateshead restored their lead just four minutes after the restart. Gillies’ free-kick caused an almighty scramble in the box, as Johnson failed to deal with the ball in, allowing Bowman an easy tap in.
Burrow headed over from a corner as The Shaymen pushed in search of an equaliser, before Town’s number 9 then headed directly at Heed goalkeeper Sam Russell, who made a comfortable save.
Shaq McDonald came on in place of Peniket at the hour mark, as Town looked for an injection of pace. The home side could have gone 3-1 up when Bowman turned in the box, but his weak effort was just kept out by Johnson as it trickled towards goal.
Gateshead threatened to take full-command of the game on a number of occasions, but were guilty of missing a succession of chances to put the tie beyond the reach of Town.
Ramshaw blazed over from the edge of the area with a first time effort, following Hamilton’s cutback, before Matty Pattison saw his effort superbly blocked by Bolton. A wonderful break led to former Town striker Jon Shaw firing wide, while Hamilton missed when he charged through on goal.
Johnson denied Hamilton with a wonderful save, before substitute Danny Johnson almost made an immediate impact moments later, but screwed his effort wide from a tight angle.
Town looked destined to be heading out of the competition as four additional minutes were added, but Wroe's hopeful punt forward found Hughes, who left Russell stranded with a stunning lob from outside of the area to take the game to extra time.
Three minutes into extra time and The Shaymen took the lead for the first time, when substitute McDonald slammed home from Burrow's chest down to make it 3-2.
Gateshead continued to press in the end-to-end encounter, as Johnson fired wide of the mark at the other end, before Shaw headed narrowly wide from a corner.
With just seconds remaining before half time of extra time, Gillies was played through on goal by Ramshaw and lashed a strike into the far corner from 20 yards for his second of the night, levelling the scores up once more.
The tempo slowed down as extra time petered out, with only a long-range effort from Nicky Wroe causing momentary panic for Russell, while Shaw missed another opportunity at the back post.
McDonald could have won it at the death, but the youngster was denied by a fantastic save from Russell to take the game to penalties, in which Town overcame Gateshead to advance into the semi-finals of the FA Trophy.