Shildon 0 Warrington Rylands 0

(Warrington Rylands won 5-4 on penalties)

WHATEVER happens from now on, Warrington Rylands have made history.

Having passed the toughest test of their FA Vase campaign to date, they are now in unchartered waters - reaching the last 16 for the first time ever.

The manner in which they did it as well - having to ride their luck before winning a third penalty shoot-out of the season - will increase that feeling of invincibility.

Although still a pretty distant speck on the horizon, that famous arch of Wembley Stadium will look a little bigger now.

Shildon may well feel hard done by having enjoyed the better of a goalless 90 minutes, but they found Blues keeper Graeme McCall in heroic mood once again.

Having saved a penalty in normal time, McCall stopped two more in the shoot-out to spark scenes of jubilation and book a last-16 tie with North Ferriby at Gorsey Lane next Saturday.

"I don’t think we played particularly well in the game," manager Dave McNabb said.

"We knew a little bit about Shildon before the game and they played well.

"They played to their strengths – they got the ball quickly into their front two and played off them.

"I don’t think we got to grips with getting hold of the ball and playing our game – maybe it was nerves.

"One thing I will never take away from our lads though is the character and their commitment to each other.

"Particularly in the last 10 minutes of that first half, it was backs-to-the-wall and some of the defending was heroic.

"Then the big man has come and saved us again. He’s an exceptional goalkeeper and he’s deserved it."

Shildon's physical edge was clear to see from kick off and they looked to exploit it.

They got the ball quickly into powerful front man Dean Thexton while without the ball, their high press prevented Blues from playing their usual passing game.

That forced errors in the Rylands defence, such as the one that forced Joe Denman into a clumsy challenge to bring down Michael Sweet for a clear-cut penalty.

However, McCall thrust himself to his left to push Thexton's spot kick round the post.

He could do nothing but watch Adam Heywood's long-range effort crash off his woodwork a little later though while Thexton skied hopelessly over the bar when he should have hit the net from close in.

After the break, it seemed the four-month Covid-enforced break in competitive action caught up with both sides as play became fragmented and chances were scarce.

However, Blues will feel they should have had the chance to score from the spot themselves when Stephen Milne - tireless in his work rate in ploughing a lone furrow up front - appeared to be clearly felled inside the area.

Referee Glenn Hart, however, saw it the other way and booked Milne for simulation much to the astonishment of everyone in blue.

They had much better luck from 12 yards once time was called on a tight 90 minutes, though.

It did not appear that way at first as Blues blinked first - Warren Gerrard saw his kick saved by home keeper Shaun Newbrook after the sides had exchanged two successful penalties apiece.

McCall denied Daniel Moore to haul his side back into it and when sudden death came, he pushed away Heywood's effort before being mobbed by delighted teammates.

"The other games where we’ve gone into shoot-outs this season, we’ve been the better side but it was the other way today," McNabb said.

"I thought Shildon were the better side and missed more chances.

"We had a couple of clear-cut ones as well. The penalty we didn’t get was a bit of a turning point in the game.

"I don’t think we had the rub of the green from the referee but it happens."