Colne made it into the Fourth Qualifying Round of the Emirates FA Cup for the first time in their history after a stirring second half comeback at Dunston on Saturday. The Reds had trailed 2-1 at the interval but responded magnificently following a half time reshuffle by manager Steve Cunningham and topped it off with a late winner to reward the large contingent of travelling supporters.
Colne started well and took the lead after six minutes when Max Hazeldine’s strong run gave Aidan Chippendale the chance of a cross from the left wing and the ball was turned into his own net by Craig Scott under pressure from Connor Hughes.
But Dunston responded well and began to test the Reds defence with some good attacks. After 17 minutes, an attempted back pass intended for Hakan Burton was intercepted by Liam Brooks in the Colne penalty area and he found the net with a low diagonal shot into the bottom corner to level the scores at 1-1.
Dunston pressed forward and forced a series of corners but Joe Coveney was back to help out his defence with some good clearances from the goalmouth and Lee Pugh was on hand to clear a shot by Andrew Grant-Soulsby off the line. After 38 minutes, Dunston took the lead when a through ball released Dan Halliday into the penalty area and he beat the advancing Burton with a low shot into the net.
With half time approaching, Callum Smith made a dangerous break into the Colne third of the field but Coveney’s superb tackle halted his run and in a subsequent attack, Michael Pearson’s goal -bound shot on the half volley was blocked by Pugh with a vital interception to keep the score at 2-1 to Dunston at the interval.
A more resolute Colne side now containing Marcus Poscha emerged for the second half and set about turning the game around with some promising attacking play creating half chances in and around the home penalty area. After 57 minutes, the Reds drew level when Hughes was quickly on to a through ball and nicked the ball away from the keeper before firing into an empty net for Colne’s equaliser at 2-2.
Colne pushed forward but had to guard against counterattacks and were relieved to see Brooks’ angled shot fly wide of the far post in a good break after 63 minutes. But most of the chances were coming at the right end for the Reds and Hughes curled a free kick just over the bar after 69 minutes before Sefton Gonzales curled a shot just past the angle eight minutes later.
With the game in the closing stages, a replay looked to be on the cards but after 86 minutes, a diagonal free kick by Coveney into the home area found the head of Gonzales and his looping header flew into the top corner of the Dunston net for the winning goal.
The Red Army celebrated on the terraces while Gonzales turned somersaults on the field in a great ending to the game.
Lee Pugh (C)