HOLDERS Welwyn GC bowed out of the SSML League Trophy at the second round stage in midweek, at the hands of midtable Div 2 side Unite MK at Bletchley.
WGC were beaten from the penalty spot, 5-4, after dominating the tie, but never touching their recent top form that had brought them four successive victories.
The club had won the SSML's most prestigous cup competititon, for the first time in their history last season, when they beat Berkhamsted 4-2 in the final.
This season, Adam Fisher's side had scraped through the previous round at home to another midtable Div 2 outfit in Luton's 61 FC, again via a penalty shoot-out.
But this time their luck was out. After WGC had netted four successful kicks through Josh Bronti, Joe Foley, Jack Read and skipper for the night Martin Standen, striker Ashley Kersey horribly skied the fifth effort yards over the bar, allowing home full-back Charlie Partington to crash his side's fifth effort past keeper Joe Croft.
That booked Unite MK a third round away tie at fellow Div 2 side Enfield Borough, who had completed a similiar triumph over Premier opposition in Cockfosters the previous night, also from the penalty spot!
Manager Fisher shuffled the pack for this tie with the upcoming FA Vase tie at Leverstock Green in mind. He rested keeper Olly Leslie, defenders John McGrandles and Jay Welsh and Ben Long and Danny Fitzgerald from his midfield.
Recent signings Manny Melford-Rowe and Lee Armitt were both ineligible.
Under 25's skipper Jack Gajjar and Sean Brettell, continuing his recovery after missing all last season with a badly broken leg, were given starting berths.
WGC forced the pace throughout, starting in the early minutes when Danny Payne's through ball put Read in, but his effort was blocked by keeper Adam
HalaI's body, the first of many similiar saves made by the inspired home keeper on the night.
The Herns Lane side dominated possession, Partington almost conceding an own goal, cleared Bronti's dangerous cross off the line with Read lurking, while Luke Robins struck a post with a 20 yarder in 23 minutes.
But Halai's heroics, back by some stout defending in front of him, ensured the game was goalless at the break.
WGC enjoyed their best spell at the start of the second-half. They forced a succession of corners and from them, Robins, Standen and fellow central defender Yasin Boodhoo, all had headed efforts cleared off the line by Unite defenders, as it seemed a visitors' goal must come.
But WGC lost impetus as the half wore on and towards the closing stages, Unite MK had a couple of forward forays for the first time in the tie. Luke Little fired a decent effort wide and home top scorer Ben Dickens pulled his effort wide after being put through by Jakub Tomsik.
Fisher rang the changes introducing Kersey's height and newly signed full-back Lee Hawkes, from Kempston Rovers, late in the game, but his side couldn't find a breakthrough.
It went straight to the penalty shoot-out and as seemed almost inevitable, it was the Milton Keynes side who triumphed, claiming their biggest scalp since re-forming from their previous existence as Wolverton Town.
WGC: Croft, Griffith, Boodhoo, Standen, Foley, Payne (Steedman), Gajjar, Brettell (Hawkes 65), Bronti, Read, Robins (Kersey).