The dream of entering the FA Cup Ist round proper was well and truly within the grasp of Grant Blacks young squad as they travelled down to the midlands to face Conference premier side Solihull Moors. On paper Solihull were the bookies clear favourites, however watching the Ossett boys as they headed to this game, they were relaxed and in good humour, full of self belief that they could get a result from this fixture, something that has been installed into the mindset of the players by Grant Black & Micky Norbury from day one of this season.
Ossett Town have only reached this stage of the FA Cup once in their history and have never been in the hat for the the 1st round proper, something that the management team truly believed the team could achieve.
Black had made it clear to the squad that even though Solihull are not having a good season, this was a massive step up for the Reds and that every single player would have to perform to the best of their abilities whilst stressing that this was an opportunity for these youngsters to prove they have the potential to play at a higher level.
The players would be backed up from the stands by a superb turn out from Reds supporters who had made the journey armed with loud voices and very loud drums.
3pm and the teams line up on the centre circle, clearly the home side have the advantage in size, height and experience but as the teams get the game under way, it is Ossett who create the first chance of the game and win a corner. From the corner Martin Pembleton receives the ball and puts in a cross into the box, Josh Snowdon fires off a shot which is blocked by the imposing giant centre back Liam Daly.
As you would expect Solihull had plenty of possession in the opening exchanges of the game but the Reds players stuck to their pre-planned jobs and deal with everything thrown at them.
Solihull put in a high cross into the area which maybe Reds keeper Leigh Overton should have come out for, the ball was cleared out to Oladapo Afolayan wide on the left who drove to the by line and put in a low cross across the box finding Shepherd Murombedzi who passes the ball into the net from 12 yards to give the home side a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute.
It would have been easy for the Ossett players to have dropped their heads, however their reaction was completely the opposite as they stuck to their game plan and in the 30th minute the ball finds Kai Hancock on the penalty spot, Hancock turns Fiacre Kelleher and shoots from 12 yards only to see his on target shot blocked 3 yards out.
On 40 minutes Anthony Mackie plays a long ball up to Captain Alex Peterson who wins the ball over Kelleher and puts a cushioned header into the path of Corey Gregory on the edge of the box who strikes a superb volley low to Bannisters right and turns to celebrate as the ball finds the back of the net to level the score to 1-1.
Kelleher was booked for a foul on Peterson and was lucky not to receive stronger punishment after several dubious challenges on Peterson which the Referee seemed to overlook, in fact the Reds were not getting any decisions from Mr Mather.
Peterson decided to play the same game as Kelleher and put in a couple of strong challenges on him and Mr Mather deemed one Peterson challenge was worthy of a yellow card and duly booked him.
Ashley Jackson fires in a long ball over the home defence and Hancocks pace beats Daly to the ball and allows him to cut in past the central defender to shoot from the edge of the box, but his shot is high and wide. The defence were struggling to deal with Hancocks pace which was proving to be a good outlet for the Reds.
Ossett saw out the final minutes of the first half to head into the dressing room at 1-1 and still very much in the Cup tie.
Half Time: Solihull Moors 1 Ossett Town 1
The second half kicks off with neither team making any changes.
The Reds give away a free kick 35 yards out. Left footer George Carline places the ball and decides to shoot, only to see Leigh Overton save at the base of his post.
The Reds continue to attack when possible and Mackie breaks down the right and plays a brilliant one - two with Martin Pembleton culminating in Pembleton delivering a cross which goes just over the bar.
Corey Gregory is clearly fouled on the half way line and the referee and linesman who were both 10 yards away from the incident allow play to continue, Gregory puts in a strong tackle in frustration and the referee immediately produced a red card and sent Gregory off to the disbelief of the players.
As the Reds drop to 10 men, Solihull make a tactical substitute moving Liam Daly up front and bring on experienced Joel Kettle to cover at centre back.
Solihull Captain Darren Carter drives towards goal from Midfield with Steven Ridley alongside, Carter gets a fierce left foot shot off but the goal-bound ball is brilliantly blocked for a corner.
The home side change their tactics and play a long ball game looking to hit target man Daly, they found success with this and see two Daly headed attempts from corners go just over the bar.
Daly's next attempt looks to be heading into the net but Overton makes a superlative fingertip save to tip the ball round the post.
A long ball over the Reds defence finds Afolayan 7 yards out and as he turns with only the keeper to beat, Overton is out quickly to block his shot for a corner.
Ossett make a substitution with Charlie Freeman replacing the hard working Kai Hancock
Solihull continued to press with their aerial assault in the closing minutes, but Josh Snowden, Alex Low and Issac Assenso at the heart of the defence stayed strong and disciplined making it as difficult as possible for the home sides attackers.
The ball dropped to Carter who strikes a 40 yard volley which is a foot over the bar and gives Ossett a bit of time to slow the game down and take a breather.
Overton is called into action again as Daly once again heads across the 6 yard box and finds a Solihull player who heads for goal from 4 yards out which sees Overton make the save of the game getting across to deny a goal, still not sure how he got to it but as Grant Black said after the game, we have come to expect saves from him like that as the norm !
A defensive clearance from Mackie clears the Solihull defence and Charlie Freeman found himself free with just the keeper to beat but as he prepares to shoot the linesman flags for offside.
In the dying seconds of the game, Solihull had one last opportunity to score as Daly heads the ball into Murombedzi who turns in the box and shoots only to see Overton again make a brilliant save to deny Solihull a winner.
The referee blows the whistle to end the game with some great celebrations from the Management, Players and Supporters alike, this was a great result for Ossett Town who yes, had to defend and soak up pressure for periods of the match, but that was the game plan and the players to their credit stuck to the task set for them.
To move up to this level, remembering this was the biggest game most of these Ossett players have played in was a tremendous achievement and deserves recognition and respect. They have, against all odds put the name of Ossett Town into the 1st round proper of the FA Cup for the first time in the clubs history and I'm sure everyone involved with the club will be watching the draw on Monday night at 7pm on BBC2.
Great credit must be given to Grant Black & Mick Norbury for setting out a game plan to get a result and at the very least to bring Solihull back to Ingfield for a replay.
The Replay will take place at Ingfield on Tuesday 17th October, kick off 7-45pm with both sides knowing who the winner will meet in the next round, hopefully a big name fixture to motivate this extremely young set of players to become forever famous in the history of Ossett Town.
I would ask every person in Ossett to bring their support on Tuesday night and make some noise for the team and if we win be able to say
" I was at that famous Cup tie"
Come on you Reddddds !!