Cleethorpes Town 3-2 Atherton Collieries
Cleethorpes Town came back from two goals down against Atherton Collieries, scoring a dramatic injury time winner
to book their place in the last eight of the FA Vase for the first time in the clubs history.
The Owls made two changes to the starting line-up which beat Parkgate 3-0 in the last match with Liam Davis and Marc Cooper replacing Brody Robertson and Jon Oglesby. Robertson and Oglesby took their places on the bench where Matt Kingston and Kieran Wressell replaced the cup tied duo of Leigh Hutchinson and Laurence McKay.
The visitors got off to the perfect start, going ahead after just 3 minutes as Mark Battersby rose above everyone to score with a close range header. The early goal clearly rocked Cleethorpes and Atherton's Joshua Messer shot wide before Clee goalkeeper Liam Higton denied Bradley Cooke, pushing the Atherton man's shot past the post.
The Owls took a while to settle but eventually responded with Marc Cooper's volley stinging the palms of Atherton keeper Adam Reid. The visitors hit back and doubled their lead on 41 minutes when Gareth Peet strode into the penalty area before shooting under Higton.
Cleethorpes appeared to be dead and buried at this point but refused to let their heads drop and crucially reduced the arrears less than 3 minutes later as Liam Davis poked home from close range after finding himself unmarked at the far post.
This goal just before half time gave the Owls a lift at the perfect time and having found themselves second best for a large period of the first half, Clee played much better after the interval. Cleethorpes drew themselves level just 5 minutes into the second half as Davis scored his second of the afternoon, firing into the top corner from 6 yards out. Clee almost took the lead moments later as Cooper's long range volley beat Reid but was cleared off the line by defender Jake Kenny.
The game flowed from end to end and the visitors came close again as Higton denied Vincent Bailey with a fine fingertip save. Cooper almost scored for the Owls, shooting narrowly wide before Vincent Bailey hit a curling shot for Atherton that cannoned back off the crossbar. Clee were then denied by two fine saves from Reid, pushing away shots by substitutes Brody Robertson and Jon Oglesby.
Just as the match seemed set for extra time, defender Matty Coleman stabbed the ball into the net from close range after the Atherton defence failed to clear a Clee corner, sparking scenes of jubilation amongst the home support who realised that the final whistle was only seconds away.
Fans spilled on to the pitch as the game ended, congratulating the Cleethorpes team on a momentous victory with singing and chanting ringing in the player’s ears as they went down the tunnel. Sportingly, the Cleethorpes faithful in the crowd of 588 lined up to applaud the deflated Atherton players off the pitch, recognising the contribution the visitors had made to a captivating cup tie.
The draw for the quarter finals will take place at 10.30 on Monday morning and can be watched live on the FA’s Twitter account. The next tie will take place on Saturday 18th February.
The Owls return to Toolstation Northern Counties East League action on Saturday 4th February when the visitors to Bradley will be Hemsworth Miners Welfare. Kick off will be at 3pm