A 3-3 draw a Chalfont St Peter in the first leg meant the second could not be more finely poised. An amazing day at Surrey Street opened the door for an amazing day in London.
Glossop fans were confident after the 3-3 draw at Chalfont St Peter. Their team had shown impressive tenacity to come back from first 2-0 and then 3-1 down to level, and they felt that the Surrey Street atmosphere would give their team the edge at home. They hadn’t reckoned with nature’s great leveller in football though – wind.
Gusts in the first leg had helped Chalfont more that North End down south. Their game was centred on set pieces, and swirling winds allowed balls into the box to cause chaos. Glossop preferred a game on the floor, and an unpredictable run of the ball was a hindrance. No wonder Chalfont striker Terrell Lewis smiled when he said ‘yep, it’s blowing’ when he walked into the ground – he knew that it was to his teams’ advantage.
The excitement in the town in the week leading up to the game was electric. The Glossop Chronicle paper had a ‘Come on Glossop’ special cover. Mettricks produced blue sausages. And tickets were like gold dust. Sold out before the first leg the club fielded call after call of requests for help with tickets. The only hope was that Chalfont might send some back, and on the day of the game queues formed at the ground before 11am to see if this might be the case. A long way from the pay-on-the-gate against Sporting Khalsa back in early September.
There were crucial and dramatic moments in the game, but in truth they were fleeting. The tension and the weather did not make this a great game for the neutral, but there were precious few of those in the ground. However, Glossop did get off to the best of starts when just two minutes in Dave Hodges fed Rick Bailey and he slid the ball under the keeper to open the scoring.
North End dealt with the aerial bombardment from Chalfont much better than they had in the first leg, but on the half hour both Dave Young and 17 year old keeper Ash Gotham came to meet a deep cross and collided. The ball came loose and Lewis hooked in to equalise.
The nerves took over for the next hour and neither side could carve out chances. Chalfont passed the ball better, but could not break down the sturdy Hillman defence. However, a change in full back had largely neutered the attacking threat of Hodges for North End, and as such much of Glossop’s spark was missing. Extra time seemed inevitable very early on in the second half and so it proved to be the case.
In the extra period, Chalfont had a spell of pressure that finally ended with a goal. Danny Yates was forced to head a ball off the line but shortly afterwards a speculative long shot bounced in front of Gotham and was spilled, and Strutton took full advantage to prod home and give Chalfont the lead.
Glossop immediately created a chance, Hodges heading inches over the bar, but as time ticked on they got more and more desperate. Jamie Kay had a shot cleared off the line but several thought time was up in the 122nd minute when the whistle went. Whilst half the Chalfont bench rushed onto the pitch to celebrate the referee in actual fact signalled a free kick to the home side on the half way line. However, the whole ground knew that this was the last chance for the Hillmen.
The free kick was looped into the box and panic ensued. Hodges had a chance cleared off the line before the ball fell to Rick Bailey, whose shot went over the bar. This time the referee surprised the home side by awarding a corner as few saw a deflection. But from the flag kick Mark Balfe headed back across goal and Kelvin Lugsden, from about 4 yards, turned the ball home with his thigh before wheeling away, circling his shirt above his head. Chalfont barely had time to kick off.
The first three penalties were scored, but when Chalfont missed Jamie Kay changed his mind in his run up and his kick was saved making the remaining penalties were sudden death. Both sides scored two more before Ash Gotham dived full length to push a shot round the post. Rick Bailey, who had been down with cramp towards the end of the game, stepped forward and scored the winning kick, sparking a joyous pitch invasion (for which the club was later fined!). Wembley was going to have to prepare for Glossop North End, they were coming!