AFC Emley 1-2 Cleethorpes Town
Cleethorpes Town survived an almighty scare at Toolstation Northern Counties East League Division 1 side AFC Emley,
scoring two goals inside the last ten minutes to come back from a goal down to seal a 2-1 win and book their place in round 3 of the Buildbase FA Vase.
The Owls suffered a blow before kick off as influential defender Peter Winn suffered an injury in the warm up. Matt Kingston stepped up from the bench to replace Winn with Liam Davis, Matt Bloomer, Matty Coleman and Liam Dickens also starting after being rested for the midweek win at Winterton Rangers.
Emley began brightly, pushing the Owls back right from the kick off. The hosts were somewhat unfortunate not to open the scoring inside the first 5 minutes as striker Ashley Flynn saw his header hit the inside of the post before winger Joe Brennan's shot moments later cannoned back off the cross bar.
Cleethorpes responded with a Jon Oglesby shot from the left hand side that was easily saved by Emley goalkeeper Graham McLachlan before Andy Taylor cut inside and fired a curling shot which was palmed away by McLachlan.
Flynn threatened the Owls again, hitting a powerful shot that Clee stopper Liam Higton dived full length to push away for a corner. Emley weren't to be denied for long however as they deservedly took the lead after half an hour, the Owls defence reacted slowly to a quickly played corner, presenting Kieran Ryan with a tap in at the far post.
The Owls were struggling to get going with Emley working really hard to stop Clee playing their usual style of free flowing football.
A gripping cup tie was soured somewhat by a mass brawl, two red cards and an unsavoury incident that occurred five minutes before half time. Brennan of Emley appeared to shove Davis off the pitch and into the wall in front of the main stand, causing a coming together of all 22 players at pitch side with pushing and shoving from both sides. As Davis got to his feet, he was grabbed in a headlock by a spectator who had leaned over the wall, an incident that is unacceptable at any level of sport. This resulted is more pushing and shoving amongst the players. After a lengthy discussion between the match officials, both Brennan and Davis were shown red cards, although to be fair there were other players who could also have been equally punished.
The second half began with Cleethorpes upping the tempo as they searched for an equaliser. Brody Robertson saw his snap snot tipped over the bar before the same player shot narrowly wide seconds later. McLachlan then denied Flett, pushing the Owls skipper's free kick past the post.
Emley threatened at the opposite end as Ryan lashed a volley wide before a great reaction save by Higton saw him save Schofield's free kick. Flynn then came close, twisting and turning before hitting a powerful shot inches wide.
It looked like being a frustrating afternoon and a fruitless journey for the Owls as the game entered it's 80th minute before a wonder strike from Jack Richardson levelled things up. There appeared to be little danger as a high, lofted ball came down to Richardson but the Clee man hit an unbelievable 30 yard volley that dipped over McLachlan and into the roof of the net.
The tie looked set for a replay as the match entered it's final minute but Dickens had other ideas, firing a low shot from 20 yards into the bottom corner past the despairing dive of McLachlan, sparking scenes of delirium amongst the travelling supporters and cruelly denying Emley the draw that their performance merited at the very least.
Cleethorpes will find out who their opponents in the last 64 will be in Monday lunchtime's draw. It's often said that the sign of a good side is one that can win despite playing below their best, that certainly applies to the Owls on yesterday's showing.
Cleethorpes are next in action on Tuesday evening when their unbeaten league record will face a stern test at Pickering Town. Kick off will be at 7.45pm