US Portsmouth’s FA Vase hero Tom Price confesses: ‘I shanked my penalty and got away with it!’
US Portsmouth penalty hero Tom Price reflected on his shoot-out success and confessed: ‘I got lucky!’
Price played a starring role in his side’s memorable FA Vase fourth round victory over higher division Christchurch at the Victory Stadium.
Not only did he beat out Priory’s second effort from captain Billy Walker, he then stepped forward to fire his own spot-kick – US’ third successful conversion in a row - past opposite number Lewis Gunstone-Gray.
With Ash Pope having ballooned the visitors’ first penalty over the bar, US went on to complete a 4-1 success and book a last 16 trip to Western League Premier Division big guns Tavistock next weekend.
Price’s penalty flew inside Gunstone-Gray’s left-hand post, and was virtually unstoppable. Front my seat in the grandstand, it looked the perfect spot-kick.
But the keeper - who had never taken a penalty in a competitive environment before - admitted he ‘shanked’ his effort.
‘In training I’ve always been ‘I’m having one, I’m having one’. But when it came to it I thought ‘oh ****, now I’ve got to take one!’ he told The News.
‘I normally go to the keeper’s left, but I knew their keeper normally goes that way.
‘At this level the keeper normally goes one way or the other, so I thought I’d go down the middle.
‘I actually shanked it, and thankfully got away with it. And their keeper actually stood still, so had I gone down the middle I’d have missed it anyway.’
While US were taking part in their first shoot-out of the season, Christchurch were remarkably participating in their SIXTH.
Three FA Cup ties had previously gone to spot-kicks, along with a Russell Cotes Cup tie and their Vase third round match with Falmouth.
Thankfully for US, footage of a handful of those games was freely available to watch online.
‘Thank God for YouTube,’ said US boss Glenn Turnbull. ‘Elliot (the manager’s son) spent an hour watching Christchurch penalties and gave some notes to Pricey at training.
‘He said that out of something like 30 penalties he’d faced, the Christchurch keeper dived the same way for 22 of them.
‘So we were well prepared, as I would hope they would have been - but you can’t legislate for someone ballooning the ball over the bar.
‘Apparently their keeper never stood still at penalties, so Elliot was going to smash his down the middle if he’d taken one.’
Price had also watched Priory penalties online.
‘We’d done our research,’ he said.
‘I knew their skipper (Walker) had a short run up and went to my right - so when I saw the captain’s armband I was always going to go that way because I’d seen all his penalties.’
US captain Tom Jeffes had called correctly at the toss, and was thankful his side had the chance to take penalties first.
Andrew Todd put the hosts ahead, confidently scoring from 12 yards before Pope fired his effort well over.
Dec Seiden, US’ regular penalty-taker, had already missed one spot-kick in a high pressure shoot-out situation in 2020/21, while playing for Chichester City in an FA Cup tie.
But this time he made no mistake, and US remained 2-0 ahead when Price saved from Walker.
Following Price’s ‘shanked’ penalty, Micky Finch - who had a spell with Moneyfields in 2019/20 - became the first Priory player to score.
But that just set the scene for Jeffes, a former Christchurch player, to send Gunstone-Gray the wrong way and kickstart the US celebrations following their fourth higher division scalp in five record-breaking rounds.
‘I took it out of the players’ hands,’ Turnbull revealed.
‘I picked the penalty takers and I picked the order. I just wanted the players to concentrate on taking the penalties.
‘It comes down to confidence - Sweeney (Andrew Todd) was ultra confident he would score, and Tom Price has always said he wanted to take one.’
Cameron Quirke and Elliot Turnbull were fifth and sixth on the list, with both brought off the bench in the closing stages with penalties in mind.
Harry Birmingham was seventh,’ said the manager. ‘We could have had a Gareth Southgate situation there. Harry was feeling a bit nervous because he was blaming himself for their goal.
‘Had it come to it, I might have switched him for Jack Chandler.’