An outstanding Hednesford Town comeback settled a superb cup tie at Keys Park on Tuesday night as League Two Port Vale, with several first team players in their squad, surrendered a two goal lead and succumbed to a 91st minute Dave MacPherson winner.
The Pitmen last appeared in a Staffordshire Senior Cup Final in 1993 but a Port Vale team with no less than eight first teamers in their squad were, barring a ten minute spell after half time, no match for the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division title-chasers.
The home side ripped into The Vale throughout the first half and, but for a little more composure in the final third, should have been at least a goal to the good at half time.
The Pitmen rarely gave a hesitant Port Vale time on the ball and regularly pressured them into mistakes and misplaced passes, summed up by Alex Melbourne surging through a 50/50 tackle with Sam Morsy and driving the ball just wide on the half hour mark.
Nathan Woolfe was unplayable on the left wing and, on at least five occasions, tormented Will Whieldon and crossed only for the ball to not quite fall for a Hednesford striker.
The away side did threaten on the break but on the rare occasions they managed to battle out of their half Dan Crane stood firm in the Hednesford goal.
Port Vale came out a changed team in the second half and scored twice in quick succession through superb headers by Louis Dodds and Dougie Price on 46 and 57 minutes as the home side looked to have missed their opportunity following their dominant first half display.
Hednesford right back John Disney was carried off with his right leg in a brace following the second goal, holding the game up for at least five minutes, but with the introduction of the ever-committed MacPherson and Durrell cleverly pulling the strings Hednesford roared back in the final half hour.
Sam Barnes halved the deficit after Michel Lennon deflected a Durrell long shot against Sam Johnson on 64 minutes and a minute later Woolfe could have equalised when Lennon’s fierce shot was saved by Johnson but richocheted out and the winger headed just wide.
Substitute Neil Harvey followed in a rebound after sterling work by Lennon down the right with 17 minutes to go to force an equaliser and the drama continued in the finale of a fantastic match.
Ben Williamson could have won it for Port Vale as he broke free down the right, rounded Crane and, with the goal open and desperate Pitmen defenders chasing back, hit the outside of the post from a tight angle.
There was controversy with a minute to go as The Pitmen had a goal disallowed for offside when Jamey Osborne’s low shot found the net only for the linesman to rule Lennon had obstructed the view of the goalkeeper in an offside position.
A rousing finish was ensured as the clock ticked onto 91 minutes and Harvey crossed for MacPherson to sweep the ball into the net to secure a famous and fully deserved victory for Hednesford Town.
Crane, Disney (McPherson 59 (90+1)), Campion, Bailey, Barnes (64), Melbourne, Osborne, Durrell, Rey (Harvey 66 (73)), Lennon, Woolfe (Francis 90+3)
Subs Not Used
Johnson, Whieldon, Taylor (Evan 80), Morsy, McCombe, Price (56), Shuker, Birchall, Williamson, Dodds (46), Croft
Subs Not Used
Boot, Pryor, Davies, Smith
Entertainment Rating – 5 Stars
Star Man – Nathan Woolfe