GATE-WAY TO CHORLEY REMAINS OPEN
Blues lived to fight another day after drawing their Emirates FA Cup First Qualifying Round at NCEL side Parkgate 2-2.
The sizeable contingent from Leek who made the midweek trip over to South Yorkshire could have been forgiven for a feeling of Déjà vu as they watched their side labour against lower league opposition in a similar manner to that at Charnock Richard eight days earlier.
Once again Blues trailed 2-1 late in the game and again it was a Tim Grice penalty that levelled things up to force a replay.
Manager Neil Baker made a couple of changes with Andy McWilliams and Niall Maguire back in the starting line-up replacing Charlie Walford and Jordan Johnson.
Blues started reasonably well with Dan Trickett-Smith prominent in seeing an 11th minute free-kick held well by Chris Butt in the Parkgate goal and then making the keeper dive full length to push his 20 yard effort away for a corner eight minutes later.
Marc Grocott then got an effort in on goal from close range but it was superbly blocked by Matthew Crookes.
The home side gradually grew into the game and missed a great chance on 24 minutes when Martin Brissett rose to meet a cross but headed wide of the post from just eight yards out.
Trickett-Smith had another low effort gathered by Butt at the second attempt but there were little in the way of further scoring opportunities in the first half and it remained goalless at the break.
The home side went ahead in the 52nd minute when a free-kick was hoisted into the box, Danny Roberts came out to make the catch but fumbled the ball and it fell to Brissett who knocked it into the unguarded net from six yards out.
Blues were level six minutes later when Trickett-Smith whipped a cross in from the left and Tim Grice got a touch close-in to divert it past the keeper and make it 1-1.
Parity lasted only five minutes as Parkgate’s Ash Burbeary unleashed a 25-yarder which took a deflection of a Blues defender and flew into the net giving Roberts no chance.
Leek’s second equaliser came on 74 minutes when a free-kick was played into the box which was met by Darren Chadwick. He headed the ball down but it bounced onto the underside of the crossbar and out.
Grocott picked up the loose ball and had his back to goal around 16 yards out when he was adjudged to have been tripped, a decision hotly disputed by the Steelmen’s players.
Grice duly stepped up and dispatched the penalty low to the keepers left to level things up again.
Grocott had a low shot well-saved by Butt late on as Blues looked for a winner, but it finished all-square and so it’s back to Harrison Park next Tuesday for the right to play Chorley in the next round and pick up the £6000 in prize money.
1. Danny Roberts
2. Jesse Bavanganga
3. Andy McWilliams
4. Marc Grocott
5. Scott Lycett
6. Darren Chadwick
7. Niall Maguire
8. Sam Hall (16. Zeph Thomas, 68)
9. Tim Grice (12. Mat Bailey, 88)
10. Dan Trickett-Smith
11. Rob Stevenson
Unused subs: 14. Charlie Walford, 15. Jordan Johnson 17. Ben Chapman
Man of the Match: Marc Grocott