Buildbase FA Fourth Round - 1874 Northwich 3 Pontefract Collieries 1
Sun 7th January 2018 | FA Challenge Vase | By Ian Templeman
1874 Northwich booked a place in the last 16 of the Buildbase FA Vase for the first time in their history with a 3-1 win over Pontefract Collieries of the Northern Counties East League.
Two goals in the final 12 minutes from Scott McGowan, taking his total to 20 for the season, turned the game into 1874's favour, after Pontefract's Mark Whitehouse had cancelled out Mark Jones's opener for the Greens.
The game, played at Witton Albion's Wincham Park, was always destined to be an emotional occasion as it was 1874's first game since the death of Chairman Paul Stockton, and a record crowd for an 1874 game of 625 spectators turned to up to pay their respects with a minute's applause, before cheering the side on to victory.
1874 joint manager Paul Bowyer said that it had been a memorable afternoon for everyone involved.
"It was a great day, after everything that's happened, it's just a fantastic day for the club.
"I spoke to Paul's son after the game and he said he would have been absolutely made up with the result.
"The turn out was brilliant, we broke our record for the number of people who came to watch, and everybody stuck together.
"We stressed to the lads before the game to just go and play as well as they possibly could, and stick to the game plan. At times we didn't play as much football as we wanted to play, but Pontefract are a good side, they get in your in your faces and get about you.
"But defensively I thought the whole team and the back five in particular just soaked up everything they chucked at us, and that was a real positive from the day.
"Everything just came together for us on the day. There wasn't much between the sides, and at times it could have gone either way.
"A big thing for us was when they equalised from a good free kick. I think in the past we'd have maybe started to crumble a little bit. But we stood firm, and if anything we created a bit more when it went back to 1-1.
"We could have had another penalty and another goal near the end, and everything about the day just all came together. It's a great achievement for everyone involved and it's been quite an incredible season with the results in the various cup competitions.
"We said we'd try to stay in as many cup competitions as we can after Christmas, and now we have managed to go one step further (in the FA Vase). And now in the last 16, you just never know.
"We've got players at the club who have been there before, and they have been saying it's down to a bit of luck, or a good draw, anything like that can help or make a difference.
"Whoever we get, we will know plenty about them by the time we play them. We'll not just turn up for the game, or underestimate them".
1874's next opponents will be known on Monday lunchtime, and whoever they are will take note that they will be facing a team bang in form, with the win over Pontefract being the Greens' tenth in succession.
To get to this stage of the competition Pontefract had previously eliminated three teams from the Hallmark Security League - Maine Road, 1874’s landlords Winsford United, and Litherland REMYCA - but 1874 proved to be too tough a nut to crack in the end.
It was, however, an evenly contested game throughout, with 1874 managing to edge ahead on the stroke of half time when Sam Hind's shot was parried by Pontefract keeper Musselwhite, and Mark Jones pounced on the loose ball to open the scoring from close range.
Just after the hour, 1874 appeared to have a good shout for a penalty turned down after Scott McGowan appeared to be fouled inside the box, and it got worse in the 69th minute when Pontefract equalised through a Mark Whitehouse free kick.
But 12 minutes from time, 1874 were back in front, with Scott McGowan finding space to get on the end of a Sam Hind cross to head home at the back post.
A memorable afternoon for the club was rounded off in the final minute with a third goal, and McGowan was once again at the heart of the action.
The referee awarded a penalty after Kazim Waite-Jackson was brought down in the box and McGowan, scorer of five spot kicks already this season, stepped up to take it.
His effort was saved by Pontefract keeper Musselwhite, but the 1874 striker reacted quickly to acrobatically volley the rebound into the net past the grounded keeper, and seal victory for the Greens.