PENALTY shoot outs: A euphoric way to win a football game, a devastating way to lose one.
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On Saturday afternoon Bathurst '75 found themselves on the wrong side of that scenario in their Western Premier League semi-final against Parkes Cobras at Proctor Park.
The two sides were locked at nil-all after 90 minutes and they still couldn't be separated after extra-time, where each side scored a goal.
Bathurst's Tom Rooke and Damien Booth scored the team's first two shoot out attempts while '75 goalkeeper Jack Hunter got a hand to the first two Parkes penalties from Mitch Hutchings and Alec Bateson but the ball had enough force on both occasions to find the back of the net.
Agieg Aluk's penalty was stopped by Parkes goalkeeper Ryan Dunn, who correctly predicted the shot would travel to the left side of the goal.
Alec Bateson gave the Cobras the 3-2 advantage in the shoot out when his high shot to the middle of the goal wrong-footed Hunter.
Dunn made it two blocks in a row when James Christie, who had put '75 1-0 up during extra-time, had his shot to the bottom right corner stopped.
Lachlan Hando then slotted home the winning shot to claim the upset victory in the third-versus-sixth contest.
Bathurst '75 coach Mark Comerford said it was a tough way for a promising season to come to a close.
"It's not like Agieg didn't strike the ball well. He just put it at the right height and close enough to the keeper, who dived the right way. If the keeper manages to guess the right way you're going then that's the end of it," he said.
"Jack got his hands to the first two penalties and if one of them falls our way it could be a different story. There are a lot of what-ifs though.
"It's heart breaking for the players. Agieg and Jack were both down about it after the game but it's not their fault. You've just got to move on.
"The playing group know that with the quality of our squad we could still be going, but credit goes to Parkes. They came out with a good game plan, they had good tempo and they frustrated us."
At the start of the match Cobras made several early threats down the right wing before Bathurst's Matt Beattie had the team's first attacking opportunity in the eighth minute, where his free kick was left to of the target.
The hosts started to enjoy the better field position over the following 10 minutes of the match.
They couldn't create anything from their first two corners of the match in that time and Beattie made a nice spin to beat two defenders but couldn't get a clean shot away.
Cobras started to wrestle away that momentum from the 20th minute, getting their first shot at goal after their first corner.
Tom Curry generated '75's best chance of the opening half when he poked the ball through the middle of two defenders to get a shot away from close range but goalkeeper Ryan Dunn scrambled to cover the shot.
Cobras then missed a golden opportunity of their own two minutes out from half-time when Brent Morgan made a solo run out of his own half to find space at the top of the box for a shot, which didn't test '75 stopper Jack Hunter.
All the early second half momentum belonged to the visitors.
Lachlan Hando's high flying free kick from the left wing sailed by the far post without a player making contact and a dangerous follow-up free kick from the opposite side met the head of teammate Alec Bateson, but the shot went over the bar.
Hunter was on hand to punch away a dangerous corner in the 54th minute.
Bathurst '75 then created an opportunity off the back of a dangerous run through the centre of the park from Damien Booth, who then put a ball through to James Christie which was interrupted by Dunn.
Booth set up an even better chance just after the hour mark when his short, airborne cross from the right side of the box found Riley Comerford's boot but the shot hit the crossbar.
Parkes' Bateson got a tough shot away from the edge of the 18 yard box when '75 failed to clear a free kick in the 70th minute but the hosts blocked the attempt.
The last 10 minutes of regular belonged to '75 but they couldn't convert their possession into any clear cut opportunities.
The breakthrough came in the fourth minute of extra-time when Christie had plenty of time to put away a shot to the right corner of the goal after Parkes failed to clear a Curry attempt which had hit the crossbar.
The joy for '75 lasted less than a minute into the second half of extra-time when Mitch Hutchings volleyed home a Cameron Kopp free kick.
That led to the penalty shoot out, where Parkes were able to keep their season alive.
"There weren't a massive amount of chances for either side. There was a chance for them in the first half where they had a break and had a one-v-one against the keeper and they kicked it straight to him, then we had a second half chance where Luke Mutton hit the crossbar," Comerford said.
"We just couldn't get that goal in regular time, which was really frustrating, but we gave ourselves every opportunity in extra-time after we scored first. But again, we just didn't defend a set piece well enough, and that put us into the penalty shoot out."
Parkes will now play Barnstoneworth United in the minor semi-final, after they accounted for Dubbo Bulls 1-0, while Orange Waratahs and Panorama meet in the major semi-final.
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