Peterborough Sports boss Jimmy Dean was left oozing pride after the biggest game in the club’s history yesterday (September 12).
A battling performance and an inspired substitution helped the city side draw 1-1 with Hitchin Town in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup.
Sports fell behind 10 minutes into the second half, but Karl Gibbs climbed off the bench to haul Sports, who play three levels further down the non-league ladder than their Southern League Premier Division visitors, level and earn a Monday-night replay.
Gibbs had only been on the pitch for eight minutes when heading in Jordan MacLeod’s 73rd minute corner and Sports might even have snatched victory had strong penalty appeals not been ignored in stoppage after Gibbs hit the deck when attempting to reach a MacLeod cross.
But Sports were also reliant on some fine goalkeeping at the death as Luke McShane reacted brilliantly to palm away a close-range effort from Hitchin goalscorer Robbie Burns.
Dean said: “Whatever happens in the replay, I could not be more proud of my players.
“All the pressure was on Hitchin anyway and that will just increase 10-fold at their place.
“I don’t think anyone could argue that we don’t deserve another go at a team flying in their league at Step 3 level.”
Yaxley will also do battle with a Step 3 side again this week. They will face East Thurrock United again at In2itive Park on Tuesday night after their tie yesterday was abandoned.
The goalless clash was halted with five minutes remaining to a serious injury to visiting player Chris Newby, who is understood to have suffered a dislocated elbow.
Deeping Rangers produced a second-half fightback to earn another crack at higher-level Leek Town.
Goals from David Burton-Jones and Scott Coupland earned a 2-2 draw in Staffordshire on Saturday to secure a Tuesday-night return date at the Haydon Whitham Stadium.
Holbeach also face a replay after twice coming from behind to draw 2-2 with Stourport Swifts at Carters Park. Recent signing Jordan Thomas hit the first equaliser just before the hour and Gary King hauled them level a second time late on.
Stamford AFC are another side set for a Tuesday replay after an early penalty and some late goalkeeping heroics earned them a 1-1 draw at higher-level Leamington.
Andy Hall struck from the spot in the sixth minute after Ryan Robbins had been tripped, but the hosts levelled with 18 minutes to go.
Goalkeeper Richard Knight then took centre-stage with a series of fine saves late on to put the Daniels in the hat.
All those teams will be attempting to join Spalding United who are already safely into the second qualifying round after easing past higher-level Nantwich Town.
Josh Moreman hit the only goal at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field.
Depleted Northern Star suffered late heartbreak in the United Counties League Premier Division. They went down 1-0 to Rothwell Corinthians at Chestnut Avenue.
Wisbech were beaten 2-0 by Leicester Nirvana at the Fenland Stadium while new Huntingdon boss Scott Witherall could not inspire an upturn in fortunes for Town, who lost 3-0 to Harborough at Jubilee Park.
Blackstones powered to a 4-1 success over 10-man Woodford in Division One.
Dan Evans’ opener was cancelled out before the visitors had a man dismissed for an off-the-ball incident on the stroke of half-time.
Blackstones made the most of their numerical advantage with recent recruit Jordan Avis restoring the lead before Addie Staffieri bagged a late brace.
Henry Dunn hit Bourne’s winner in a 2-1 victory at Wellingborough side Whitworths. Tyler Sculthorpe put the Wakes ahead before the hosts levelled.
First qualifying round: Peterborough Sports 1 (Gibbs 73), Hitchin 1 – replay Monday; Holbeach 2 (Thomas 57, King 84), Stourport Swifts 2 – replay Tuesday; Leek Tn 2, Deeping 2 (Burton-Jones, Coupland) – replay Tuesday; Leamington 1, Stamford AFC 1 (Hall) – replay Tuesday; Spalding 1 (Moreman), Nantwich 0; Yaxley vs East Thurrock Utd abandoned due to player injury – restaged Tuesday.
UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE
Premier Division: Peterborough Northern Star 0, Rothwell Corinthians 1; Wisbech 0, Leicester Nirvana 2; Huntingdon 0, Harborough 3.
Division One: Blackstones 4 (Evans 12, Avis 65, Staffieri 72 & 79), Woodford 1; Wellingborough Whitworth 1, Bourne 2 (Sculthorpe 54, Dunn 70).