Longridge Town suffered only their second defeat of the season, going down 4-2 on penalties, to Blackpool Wren Rovers in the Lancashire Shield after the teams drew 1-1 in 90 minutes.
Manager Lee Ashcroft was forced into a major reshuffle after only four minutes when Kieran Walmsley fell awkwardly, and was taken to hospital with a suspected broken arm.
With these two teams sitting first and second in the West Lancashire League, neither played to the level they are capable of with chances few and far between in the first 20 minutes.
Wrens put a header wide when well placed, and Alex Randell hit a volley high and wide for Town, but neither keeper was called into action of any note.
Wrens thought they had taken the lead after 38 minutes when the ball was bundled into the Longridge goal at the far post but, after total confusion, it was disallowed for handball.
Two minutes later a nice piece of skill from Reece Fishwick put Brad Carsley clear but the Town frontman put his shot wide.
The home side started the second half stronger, but it was a turgid game with little quality on show for the travelling Longridge support.
Wrens were running the midfield, winning the majority of second balls, but the Town keeper wasn’t troubled with skipper George Melling marshalling the defence well.
Longridge just couldn’t get their wide men involved in the game and were creating little, aside from the odd free-kick, which was invariably wasted.
Recent signing Mitch Leece and Leon McLoughlin were brought on to replace the Carsley brothers with 20 minutes left as Town looked to spark their game into life.
The breakthrough came for Wrens however when, after 75 minutes, Town defender Danny Morris left a pass short and the ball was crossed low into the six yard box for Wrens’ centre-forward Carl Eastwood to finish from close range.
The game then got even more fractious as Wrens’ midfielder Gary Pett was dismissed for violent conduct, having reacted to a late challenge from George Melling, who was booked for his part in proceedings.
Leece had made a difference up front for Town and, with the home side down to 10 men, the travelling support had hopes of a 15-minute onslaught from their side.
It wasn’t to be, however, as Randell was sent off for handball, his second yellow card offence, and second red of the season.
Good work from Joe Melling then found Leece in the box, whose pass to the far post bounced towards the left foot of Ash Ball, but his shot was brilliantly saved by Cameron in the Wrens goal.
It felt like the last chance had come and gone but, in the fourth minute of time added on, Ball’s shot was pushed out by the keeper to Joe Melling, who calmly slotted his right-footed shot into the goal from a tight angle to make it 1-1 with the last kick of the game.
With no extra time, this took the game straight to penalties and Longridge were missing their three first choice penalty takers in Walmsley, Carsley and Randell.
O’Rourke scored the first for Town but both Conor Linighan and Ball saw their efforts well saved by Cameron in the Wrens goal.
Despite George Melling scoring Town’s fourth attempt, Wrens scored four from four to win the game and progress into the fourth round as they continue to defend the trophy that they won back in May.