2 - 1Full Time
Second half goals from Jamie Foley and Rob Hopley dumped Spennymoor out of the FA cup at the Second Qualifying Round for the second successive season.
Foley struck a penalty five minutes after the interval past Matt Gould to open up a tight and scrappy affair, before Hopley steered in from close range five minutes from time.
That close-range effort proved to be the winner after Ryan Hall pulled one back deep into stoppage time, flicking on Shane Henry’s driven cross.
Moors, who came into the contest on the back of four wins from five league games, were unchanged, with Jason Ainsley opting to stick with the side that defeated Nuneaton Borough 3-1 a week previously.
Witton Albion were on a high after a victory over Marine on Tuesday night, but both sides struggled to find their rhythm in the early stages, with the referee not helping by rewarding a succession of minimalistic fouls.
It was the home side who created the afternoon’s first opening, with striker Hopley reacting quickest to a loose ball in the area, forcing Gould into a smart stop at his near post.
But, as the first half progressed, Ainsley’s in-form side began to dictate play and take control of possession, but they had little to show for it in terms of chances. Stephen Brogan twice had the opportunity to test Greg Hall with two free-kick’s from similar distances, but his strikes were wide on both occasions.
Despite dominating the ball, it was Albion, backed by a noisy home crowd, who came the closest to breaking the deadlock in a forgettable first half.
An aimless long ball upfield was ushered back to Gould by Kris Thackray, but when the referee blew for deliberate handball, Witton thought they had won a penalty. However, referee Kristian Silcock adjudged the offence to have occurred inches outside the area.
Dylan McKenna, the standout player of the entire game, struck a sweet effort which clipped the top of the crossbar via a deflection.
From the resulting corner, a crunching 50/50 challenge left Andrew Johnson in a heap on the floor, and after limping heavily to the sidelines, was soon replaced by Hall.
The second half began in much brighter fashion, and with Ainsley’s words clearly still ringing in their ears, Moors carved out their best opportunity of the game to that point when Glen Taylor directed a Jake Hibbs cross on to the bar.
But, despite starting the half in commanding fashion, it was the home side who soon had the ball in the back of the net. When substitute Delial Brewster burst into the area, a combination of Brogan and Thackray sent the Albion man tumbling, ands the referee didn’t hesitate and pointed to the spot.
The job was given to Foley who made no mistake, burying a low shot past the despairing glove of Gould.
The reaction from the Moors bench was instant, with Adam Boyes replacing Brogan, meaning a switch to a more traditional 4-4-2 formation, with Boyes lining up alongside Taylor and Henry switching to left back.
Still buoyed by their earlier goal, Witton could sense a cup upset and had two chances in quick succession to double their advantage. First, right back Anthony Gardner burst into the box before arrowing a shot just inches wide of the post, before Foley could only stoop to direct a header wide of the mark.
As the second half progressed, Witton’s defence began to sit deeper and Moors found themselves camped on the edge of their opponents penalty area for a large portion of the half, and, after he was introduced in favour of Shaun Tuton, Mark Anderson hit the post from a tight angle, not long after Rob Ramshaw had driven wide from the edge of the box.
On an afternoon to forget for Spennymoor, Witton broke away with five minutes of normal time remaining to seal their passage to the next round. McKenna, an instrumental figure, crossed low for Hopley to convert from six yards.
Hall’s late header, seemingly just a consolation, was almost the first part of a remarkable late fightback, but Hall did well to get down and keep out Anderson’s long range drive.
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