GNP Sports manager Shamir Alam says his substitutions made the world of difference in the FA Vase second qualifying round win over FC Stratford.
Despite going behind twice in the encounter at the Arden Garages Stadium, GNP managed to take the game to penalties, where they came out on top 4-3 in the shootout.
Alam felt the hosts were the better side in Saturday’s encounter, but credited his players for upping their level to progress into the first round of the competition.
“We clearly bring the best out of one another, but on the day I felt FC Stratford were the better side, so credit to Dave, Tom and their players,” he said.
“However we managed to dig deep, and grind out a result by not playing very well.
“I thought our subs made an impact which helped us in extra time.
“It was a classic and it’s a fixture where both sides know plenty about each other, I think that’s the seventh fixture in just over two seasons, and we play them again next Tuesday.”
Stratford went in front through Dylan Parker, before Adam Knight levelled things up just before the break.
With the scores still locked after 90 minutes, a 110th-minute strike from Tom Parnaby looked to have earned the hosts a place in the next round.
But five minutes later, Aaron Dickens’ cross evaded the Stratford goalkeeper and went in via the post, taking the game to penalties.
Robert Prinzel and Joe Wright scored the opening penalties, while Brennan King’s miss was immediately rectified by Paul Lawrence’s save.
Charlie Cook then found the net, with Lawrence’s second save allowing Chris Lloyd to send Sports through.
GNP drew Malvern Town in the first round draw on Monday afternoon, with Alam confident of progressing further.
“We are pleased it’s a home draw, and with the distance Malvern have to travel to us we need to ensure we use that to our advantage,” he said.
“It will be a tough game but you have to expect that being in the first round proper of the competition.
“One thing is for sure, we won’t allow them to come to us and dominate.”