Source: Manchester Evening News
Manchester will have at least four clubs in the FA Cup’s final qualifying round after a triumphant weekend for local non-League sides in the world’s best-known knockout competition.
FC United, Droylsden and Stalybridge Celtic will all join Altrincham, who as a Blue Square Bet Premier club are spared the Cup’s earlier stages, in battling for the chance to meet an npower League One or Two outfit in the first-round proper.
Proud FC manager Karl Marginson saluted his resilient Rebels after they survived a scare to romp through 5-2 at Norton and Stockton Ancients, taking the Gigg Lane side to within 90 minutes of a possible dream tie with the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Oldham or Rochdale.
Mike Norton’s hat-trick set up United’s victory, but they trailed 2-1 after he’d given them an early lead and then had to dig deep to see off their North East hosts with Glynn Hurst and substitute Ben Deegan adding to two further goals from the former Curzon Ashton sharpshooter.
Marginson, whose side lost to Northwich in the fourth qualifying round 12 months ago, said: “We were worried at one point, but we know we’ve got goals in us and credit to the boys for coming through in the end.
“We’re just delighted to be in the next round. All we want is a home draw and, hopefully, we can go at least one better than last year.”
Droylsden disposed of Ashington 4-1 but were similarly pushed hard by the Geordies, who missed a penalty when only 2-1 down.
Ciaran Kilheeney and Steve Beck gave the Bloods a seemingly comfortable two-goal cushion, but they then carelessly allowed the home side to pull one back and were lucky not to
concede an equaliser when goalscorer Stephen Young fired wide from the spot after sub Alex Brown was adjuged to have handled.
Jody Banim, fresh back at the Butcher’s Arms after a second spell with neighbouring Stalybridge, finally killed off Ashington with a smartly-taken third goal four minutes from time before Liam Brownhill put the gloss on the result.
Droylsden chief Dave Pace said: “Some of our football in the first-half was outstanding, but we then conceded a sloppy goal and could easily have paid a heavy price for it.
“We simply cannot afford to be so careless if we’re to go any further in the competition.”
Stalybridge, whose boss, Jim Harvey, is being linked with the managerial vacancy at League Two Hereford, also picked up a hefty £7,500 winners’ cheque but, like FC United, also had to come from behind to triumph 3-1 at Warrington.
Rob Hardwick stunned the Celts by heading Town in front on 25 minutes, but Bridge rallied before equalising on the stroke of half-time through Craig Hobson.
Phil Marsh then put Bridge ahead early in the second-half and duly wrapped up their victory with his second and the visitors’ third goal late on.
Mossley, who have already banked £9,000 in Cup prize money, appeared certain to add to it when Ben Richardson gave them a well-deserved interval lead at Lincoln.
But the Railwaymen hit back to equalise and, in the end, it was the visiting Lilywhites who were happiest to settle for a draw and the chance to finish the job on home turf.