Hednesford Town progressed to the Second Qualifying Round of the Emirates FA Cup after a night of high excitement under the floodlights at Keys Park. Opponents Long Eaton United disregarded their lower league status to give the Pitmen a run for their money in an enthralling encounter that went right down to the wire.
In the opening half Dan Turner seemed the most likely to open the scoring, shooting over from a tight angle, before hitting the woodwork and then placing Danny Glover’s through ball inches wide of the post. Although the Pitmen had the majority of possession, Long Eaton soaked up the pressure breaking with purpose, and asking questions of the Pitmen defence with a series of long throws into the box. As the half time break approached, Kieran Dawes whipped in a dangerous cross from the right setting up Danny Glover to head past Sam Wilson in goal for the Blues.
The Pitmen continued to pile on the pressure at the start of the second half with a series of corners, as attempts by Rhys Thompson and Louis Dodds were deflected by the visiting defence. James Taylor forced a low save from Andy Wycherley, serving as a warning that the Blues were not yet ready to end their run in the cup. Alex Marshall scored a deserved equaliser in the 58th minute; however, the lead did not last long as Dan Turner finding the ball at his feet produced a sharp finish from close range two minutes later. Another long throw from the visitors caused indecision in the Pitmen area, allowing Danny Gordon to bundle the ball over the line amongst a sea of bodies. Substitute Will Norcross went close to finding a winner from Turner’s squared pass as the game looked ever more likely to be settled by penalties. In the second minute of added on time Danny Glover found space on the edge of the area, blasting the ball into the net to give the Pitmen a late winner.
After the game Andy Morrell commented; “It was a really tough game and credit goes to Long Eaton as they literally threw everything at us. We created chances and need to be more clinical in the final third but any win is nice and I am pleased by the endeavour of the lads to keep going to the end.”
Hednesford Town; Wycherley, Dawes (Griffiths 78), Campbell-Gordon, Bailey, Mendez-Jones, Thompson, Cater (Norcross 68), Hallahan, Glover, Dodds (Smith 90+3), Turner. Subs not used; Dodd, Veiga, Woakes, Lycett.
Long Eaton United; Wilson S, Wilson B, Head, Gordon, Graham, Walker, Taylor (Wheately 85), Brittain (Shaw 68), Marshall, Gwilde (Piliero 71), Walker. Subs not used; Baker, Korzeniewski, Ingram, Coombes.