FA Cup dream nears reality for outstanding Liversedge

Liversedge 3 Harrogate Town 2 Liversedge humbled lofty Harrogate Town with an outstanding display as the club's remarkable and historic FA Cup run continued at Clayborn last Saturday.

A superb brace from Paddy Gaughan plus a bullet header from Andy Markham in a seven-minute spell midway through the second half left Town reeling as Liversedge deservedly won this third qualifying round tie.

The score may suggest the Conference North outfit ran their hosts close but in truth, save for a spell late in the first half when Town took the lead, Liversedge dominated. Now only a home tie with Coalville Town a week tomorrow stands between the Clayborn side and the dream of a place in the first round proper.

Liversedge's will to win shone through led by Markham, Craig Farrand, Gaughan and Nathan James in midfield as they never shirked a challenge.

Town were rattled early on as Liversedge took charge and the home side went close in the ninth minute when Asif Hussain's free-kick was headed down by Nirinda Sandhu only for Gareth Hamlet to fire over from 10 yards.

Sandhu and Hamlet proved a real handful for the Town defence and several times Paul Pettinger had to race out of his goal to hack the ball to safety under pressure from the pacy strikers. It all proved too much for Town chairman Bill Fotherby who trekked round from his seat in the stand to offer words of advice to the Harrogate bench.

The Town attack, well marshalled by Hussain and Wes Milnes, failed to trouble goalkeeper Kyle Sutcliffe while Liversedge continued to press and Sandhu was denied by Pettinger and the lively James was twice scythed down near the area but Hussain's curling free-kicks were just wide.

Late in the first half Town finally responded as Paul Shepherd put a header wide and Richard Dunning's 25-yard strike went just over before Marc Smith glanced a header across goal.

Colin Hunter saw a curling free-kick from 20 yards smack the left post before a minute from the break Mark Barnard's teasing cross from the left found Smith who stooped to head home.

It was a cruel blow for Liversedge but buoyed by a half-time rallying call from manager Eugene Lacy they took a stranglehold on the game and made a mockery of the three diivsions between the sides.

James's runs on the right tormented the defence while full-backs Simon Wood and Danny Lowe also impressed as the visitors were forced back. A teasing low cross from James was cut out before reaching Hamlet at the far post while Town scrambled a Wood cross clear after he was released by Hamlet's neat backheel.

Lowe's deep cross was bundled behind by Hunter under pressure from James while Gaughan saw a shot held by Pettinger before Liversedge's reward came after an hour.

A determined tackle by Wood near halfway gave James possession and after he took on the defence, Hamlet's flick found Gaughan on the left corner of the area and he looped a superb shot over Pettinger and into the net.

Four minutes later Liversedge struck again as James had the defence backpedalling before his low cross found Gaughan on the edge of the area and he lashed the ball home over the helpless Pettinger.

Scott Metcalf flashed a header from a free-kick by Hussain across goal beforeTown were left stunned as Liversedge made it 3-1 in the 67th minute.

James's determination on the right won a corner and when Gaughan's kick cleared the area James collected on the left and crossed for Markham at the far post to power home a close range header.

The visitors tried desperately to salvage the game but Liversedge's fine defence kept them in check. Sutcliffe had only one real save in the half as he denied Clayton Donaldson low down while Lee Morris sent an overhead kick well over.

Late on Smith volleyed over from close range but Liversedge still looked threating and Pettinger denied James before the goalkeeper held Farrand's powerful free-kick.

Three minutes into injury time referee Grundy awarded a penalty when there seemed minimal contact as Town substitute James Turley fell under a challenge from Wood.

Turley got up quickly to rifle home the spot kick low to Sutcliffe's right but it was all in vain as the final whistle sparked Liversedge celebrations which went long into the night.

Liversedge: Sutcliffe, S Wood, Lowe, Hussain, Milnes, Farrand, Markham, Gaughan, Sandhu (Metcalf 63min), Hamlet, James (Crossley 77min). Subs not used: McKeown, Lobley, Pemberton.

Harrogate Town: Pettinger, Black (Morris 71min), Barnard (O'Brien 58min), Shepherd, Haran, Dunning, L Wood (Turley 65min), Krief, Smith, Donaldson, Hunter. Subs not used: Atkins, Buxton.

Referee: Craig Grundy (Sheffield).