Birtley Town crashed out of the Durham Challenge Cup and with it, the chance to play National League side Hartlepool United at Victoria Park in the next round following a 93rd minute goal from Tow Law's Dale Milburn.
In what was a pretty tight first half, the visitors could have easily been ahead inside the opening two minutes when Lewis Teasdale capitalised on a John Sherlock mistake to put himself through on goal but he was to be denied by a good reaction save from the feet of Birtley keeper John Mordey.
Nick Hay had a chance just past the half hour when he was played in by John Sherlock but his shot, on the turn was easily picked up by Lewis Graham in the Tow Law goal. At the other end, a chance for Dale Milburn from nothing saw his shot hit the side netting from the edge of the box with the Birtley keeper virtually unmoved.
Right on the stroke of half time, a great ball from Lewi Whybrow found Tony Smith who turned his marker and fed it through to Nick Hay who calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net to open the scoring and grab his first Birtley goal since August 2017. Soz Nick.
HALF TIME | BIRTLEY TOWN 1-0 TOW LAW TOWN
Two minutes into the second half, Tow Laws' Matty Moffatt was dispossessed by John Sherlock which, in turn, allowed Dan Candlish to run through on goal but he lifted his effort over the bar from a good position. Tony Smith then found himself inches away from getting on the end of a Ben Garrity cross. At the other end, danger was averted as Lewis Teasdale fired high over the bar.
A Birtley free kick in a very good position on the edge of the box brought a fantastic reaction save from Graham as he turned Dan Candlish's effort around the post for a corner. Teasdale then had another chance for the visitors and although this one was a lot closer, it also fizzed over the bar before an excellently timed sliding challenge from Martin Guy prevented a certain goal for Dale Milburn in the 66th minute.
Ricky Tanoh saw his effort blocked on the line after good work from Tony Smith to set him up before another chance went begging for Lewis Teasdale. A looping effort from Smithy bounced just the wrong side of the crossbar which certainly got the crowd's voice going again when it looked like he had skied it.
After spurning three chances, Lewis Teasdale wasn't to be denied for a fourth time and equalised in the 78th minute. Moving the ball to his right twice, he was able to get his shot away which was saved by the Birtley keeper but the spin of the ball allowed it to cross the line and give the Lawyers a lifeline.
There were further chances for Birtley as Tony Smith saw his header cleared off the line from a corner and at the other end, Matty Moffat saw his header crash against the upright and cleared.
With two minutes of normal time remaining, Tony Smith did very well to hold off the defender and send a fierce effort goalwards. If it wasn't for Graham getting a slight touch to it and the ball smashing against the crossbar, it would have a late Birtley goal and something that was more than deserved. The rebound from Ben Garrity was blazed over but in his defence, he was under pressure from the defender and didn't have time to let it drop.
Just as it looked like a penalty shootout would decide the game, the sting in the tail for Birtley came in the 93rd minute when the ball was knocked up to Matty Moffat. He laid it back to Dale Milburn who executed a perfectly hit strike above Mordey’s outstretched hand and under the bar.
FULL TIME | BIRTLEY TOWN 1-2 TOW LAW TOWN
For the second home game in a row, the lads gave it their all and were very unlucky not to score more than one. Hopefully November will be a little kinder to us on the results side of things as we finally start to see players returning from injury.
Next up is old foes Newcastle University at home on Saturday afternoon. Our last game against them was the 2017/18 George Dobbins League Cup Final which we won 2-0 thanks to early goals from Dan Hill and Tony Smith at Grounsell Park. I doubt Hilly will be there on Saturday but I'll certainly take a similar result!