GRICE ON THE SPOT TO EARN A REPLAY
A late penalty from Tim Grice kept Blues in the Emirates FA Cup as they drew 2-2 at Charnock Richard in the delayed Preliminary Round tie.
Neil Baker made one change to the side that were beaten by Clitheroe with Charlie Walford returning to the starting line-up in place of Jordan Johnson.
A quiet opening to the game was brought to a halt after 11 minutes when the floodlights went out causing a delay of nine minutes until they came back on.
Soon after the restart Blues had a big shout for a penalty turned down when Dan Trickett-Smith was flattened in the box.
Charnock had a couple of openings in quick succession around the 20 minute mark. Carl Grimshaw headed just wide and then he was almost on the end of another cross with the goal beckoning.
In the 24th minute Zeph Thomas had a chance from a bouncing ball but put his effort wide of the post.
Blues best chance came just afterwards when Marc Grocott (pictured) produced some great work down the right to set up Walford, but his low shot was saved by the outstretched foot of Charnock keeper Chris Cheetham.
Thomas had another shot saved by Cheetham and the half ended with another penalty shout as Trickett-Smith went down in the area following a chase with a defender.
It took just four minutes of the second half for Town to make the breakthrough. Stevenson produced an excellent run and cross from the right, leaving Trickett-Smith with a close range tap-in.
The lead was short-lived though as three minutes later a free-kick was played into the Leek box and Ashley Ball glanced the ball home.
Worse followed ten minutes later as the home side went in front. Grimshaw beat Danny Roberts to a cross and his header found Joe Noblet who nodded the ball home.
Baker responded by bringing on Grice and Blues immediately looked a better prospect at the attacking end. Both he and Stevenson went close with shots before the equaliser came in the 83rd minute.
It was Grice’s persistence that made the goal as he chased a defender into the corner and blocked the clearance that rebounded into the area into the path of Trickett-Smith. As he made strides towards goal he was brought down by Ryan Schofield and this time the referee did point to the spot.
After missing two penalties in the last two games, Grice stepped up and calmly sent Cheetham the wrong way with his spot-kick.
A draw was probably a fair result and the two sides will replay on Saturday at Harrison Park, meaning the winner will travel to Parkgate next week instead.
1. Danny Roberts
2. Niall Green
4. Marc Grocott
5. Scott Lycett
6. Mat Bailey
7. Niall Maguire (15. Sam Hall, 76)
8.Charlie Walford (14. Jordan Johnson, 76)
9. Zeph Thomas (12. Tim Grice, 66)
10. Dan Trickett-Smith
11. Rob Stevenson
Unused subs: 16. Darren Chadwick 17. Jessy Bavanganga 18. Harry Brazel 19. Ben Chapman