Essex Senior League outfit West Essex secured passage into the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Vase after overcoming Step 6 Harwich & Parkeston at home on Friday. After a tightly fought game, the sides couldn’t be separated with spot-kicks being required to decide the victor.

West made the better start to the game as they came forward in the opening minutes. A free-kick from the edge of the box was fired over by Reece Clarke before the skipper unleashed a powerful shot inside the box, but saw his effort well saved by the Harwich keeper. The early pressure continued from the hosts as a scramble in the box resulted in a shot going wide before Harwich’s Matthew Green had a shot from the away side, but West’s keeper pulled off a good save.

Joe Boreham-Knight rose well, but sent his header over the bar as Harwich looked to come into the game before Clarke tried his luck from another free-kick, but the set-piece was just over. With limited chances between the two sides as the half wore on, West applied the pressure to Harwich as they sought the opener. The hosts broke forward and put together some good passes, but the resulting shot was fired over before Marion Ortiz rattled his shot against the post.

There was an opportunity to relive the pressure for the visitors as they had a free-kick at the end of the half, but the set-piece was dragged wide from distance and the sides went into the break level.

The second half started better for Harwich as they applied the pressure in the opening minutes. The West Essex was forced into a brilliant save from point blank range before a scramble in the West box saw the keeper pulled off two blocks to deny the visitors the lead.

West looked to come into the half themselves as they looked to break forward, but Harwich defended well before both keepers kept the scores level with some good saves. The Harwich shot-stopper was the latest to pull of another double save to deny West the lead. As the half reached the half-way point, the tempo dropped with neither side having a clear cut opportunity at goal. The game had become fiery as challenges flew in, but West looked most likely to score as the half went on.

A ball was crossed in from the right-hand side, but the resulting shot was well held by the Harwich keeper. In the final 10 minutes, Oliseh Okuguni almost nicked a late goal as he went on a mazy run in the box, but the ball just ran away from the midfielder as he went to pull the trigger before the game became frantic as both sides looked to win it late. The visitors tried to play a long ball over the top, but the pass was too quick for the forward before there was a late chance for Harwich, who had the chance to launch the ball into the box in added time, but the set-piece came to nothing.

With the scores level after 90 minutes, the game went to penalties. There was no mistake from both sides as they scored two penalties each, but it wouldn’t last long as West took the lead after Arthur Leblond pulled off the only save of the shootout. The miss cost the away side as, despite scoring their fourth penalty, couldn’t make ground on West who convert all five successfully.