Stafford Town are through to the Third Round of the First Division Challenge Cup (Edward Case Cup), beating local rivals Eccleshall 4-2 on penalties at Evans Park after the match ended in a 2-2 draw after 90 minutes. Eccleshall twice took the lead in the first half but a strong second half performance from Stafford, which included a contender for goal of the season by Charlie Swingwood had Eccleshall holding on to force penalties. Henry Smith was the hero for Stafford in the shootout as he saved two spot kicks to send Stafford through, all the more impressive given that he started the game at centre back before replacing the injured Sam Amedu between the posts at halftime. Eccleshall had a fourth minute backpost header from a corner headed goalwards prior to the ball being cleared from danger; Nathan Scott firing an effort over for Stafford two minutes later. A dangerous Eccleshall break was then snuffed out by a great recovery run by Swingwood before Eccleshall took the lead in the 13th minute; another corner delivered high towards the backpost looked to have been claimed by Amedu but he unfortunately backpedalled as he caught the ball, colliding with the post and dropping the ball over the line. Another Eccleshall half chance was easily saved before Stafford began to find their attacking rhythm, a good driving run and shot by ‘Kaz’ Danilian requiring a save in the 19th minute. Josh Wilson then engineered some space for himself on the touchline and although he was able to squeeze in a low cross, no Stafford player was on hand to turn the ball home. Wilson then equalised for Stafford in the 24th minute as his shot from the edge of the box bounced just infront of the Eccleshall ‘keeper who would have been disappointed to see the ball go under his hand. Arek Pociask then put a follow up effort into the side netting following another run and shot by Danilian that was only partially saved. Stafford were perhaps thinking they were getting on top of the match when Eccleshall took the lead for a second time in the 30th minute; a throw in into the Stafford box eventually led to a low cross and near post finish poked through the legs of Amedu. Following a quieter ten minute spell, Eccleshall shot over in the 43rd minute after an attack through the middle. Stafford had the final chance of the half in injury time, Danilian retrieving an overhit corner before playing the ball back into a dangerous area, culminating in a slight scramble and a shot that was wide of the target. HT 2-1 Eccleshall. Thus far Amedu had been battling a thigh injury throughout and was unable to continue so Henry Smith donned the gloves for the second half as Chris Anderson was introduced into a reshuffled Stafford back four. Stafford almost equalised immediately, a well weighted ball into the left channel by Wilson released Scott, whose lofted cross found Pociask unmarked but he found himself caught in two minds whether to have a touch or not and the ball bounced away from him to be gathered by the ‘keeper. Danilian had a shot over the bar as Stafford began to have prolonged spells of possession, Eccleshall appearing to try and hold onto what they had and hit Stafford on the break when possible. Fresh legs were introduced for Stafford in the form of Ryan Taylor and Dan Kelly, making his first Senior Team appearance of the season following a number of impressive displays for the Under-21 side. Eventually the pressure told and Stafford got a deserved 67th minute equaliser, Swingwood finding himself in some space in midfield and although there looked to be little danger given the distance from goal he somehow found the top corner with an outstanding lofted curler from 30-35 yards. Eccleshall had clearly used most of their energy in the first half and looked to be settling for penalties as they attempted to eat up every second they could. Stafford meanwhile pressed for a winner, Taylor getting into the box and having a shot saved, the ball looping up into the air for Danilian to head goalwards but the ball hit the post and was cleared. Scott then fed the ball through to Wilson in the 80th minute but he dragged his effort wide across the goal with his weaker right foot. The final ten minutes saw Taylor denied a penalty when he appeared to have been spun round in the box, a free kick by Danilian that was over the bar and a long ball forward to Scott that he unfortunately miscontrolled when he looked to be free on goal. Stafford were unable to find a winner however, so the match proceeded directly to a penalty shoot out. FT 2-2. So to the lottery of penalties, Stafford ended up going first; both sides scored their first two attempts, Harry Bowers and Josh Wilson converting for Stafford. Dan Turton then put his penalty into the top right corner of the net before the Eccleshall stopper stepped up himself to take the visitors third penalty, his decision to attempt a ‘Panenka’ going horribly wrong as Smith remained central to simply catch the ball with ease. Danilian then dispatched the fourth spot kick for Stafford to further increase the pressure on the next taker for Eccleshall, whose penalty was saved low down by Smith to send Stafford through to the Third Round where they will meet the winner of Barnton and Cammell Laird for a place in the Quarter Finals. Pens 4-2 Stafford Town. Stafford have just four league matches remaining, beginning with a trip to Shropshire to take on Ellesmere Rangers on Saturday 12th March, followed by another away fixture against relegation-threatened Alsager Town on Saturday 19th March.