West were stunned at home in the Extra Preliminary Qualifying Round of the FA Cup to fellow NWCFL side Squires Gate. West Manager Steve Settle named a strong side and was able to recall Dean Williams into the starting eleven whilst there were places on the bench for Lee Gavin and Gary Lilley.
However the best laid plans were undone as from the kick off Squires Gate pumped the ball long into the path of Brett Dawson and the Squires Gate forward coolly lifted the ball over the stranded Williams to hand West a nightmare start after just 15 seconds. Immediately Gate almost doubled their lead a minute later as another long ball down the right found Richard Seear but his time his lob over the keeper was high and wide of the West goal. It got worse for West after 8 minutes as Joe Noblet cross from the right and Seear was given a free header from close range to make it 2-0 to Squires Gate.
West were finally stunned into action and a Paul Socha cross from the left on 15 minutes found Rob Black at the far post; the teenagers pull back found Joe Shaw whose shot was cleared off the line. Three minutes later Matty Kay caught a bouncing ball from 25 yards out and his first time effort forced Squires Gate Ben Fletcher into his first save of the afternoon.
West pulled a goal back on 21 minutes as a superb cross from Richmond Botchey on the right hand side found Matty Kay at the far post and he volleyed home on the turn for his third goal in as many games. West continued to dominate and another terrific passing move from West as Ash Woods laid the ball off to Rick Gleave who forced Fletcher into a superb save with his feet. Fletcher was called into action again a minute later when a superb header from Kay found Woods who played a quick one-two at the edge of the area and forced another great save from Fletcher at his near post.
On 35 minutes Squires Gate had a good chance to make it 3-1 as another long ball cleared the defence and Noblet fired wide with the goal at his mercy. West stepped up their pressure with more quick passing at the edge of the area which saw Joe Shaw play in Kay as he forced another save from the Squires Gate goalkeeper. Fletcher continued to keep West at bay as he tipped over another goal bound effort destined for the top corner with almost the final kick of the half.
The first incident of the second half came three minutes in as Seear raced into the penalty area throwing himself to the floor with claims for a penalty but the referee wasn’t fooled and waived it away. Six minutes later Seear was lucky not to enter the book a second time as Botchey was on the receiving end of a thigh high challenge; crossing to Kay but he could only head wide.
West introduced Ben Steer in place of Rob Black and the West winger had an immediate impact on 55 minutes as a perfect cross found Matty Kay but Fletcher was able to save with his feet and the rebound desperately scrambled away. A minute later Steer drilled an effort towards goal from 30 yards with a boot deflecting the goal bound effort wide.
West’s dominance continued despite Squires Gate persistent and increasing time wasting and deservedly levelled on 76 minutes when Ash Woods powered into the box on the end of a Martyn Andrews through power and fired a rocket past Fletcher into the bottom left hand corner. A fine strike to hand the West strikers first goal of the season.
There was another twist however as the two teams were level less than a minute as Squires Gate cleared from a scramble in the box from a Ben Steer throw in. The clearance found Noblet who evaded a Botchey tackle and curled a long range effort into the top left hand corner.
West went in search of a third of their own as, despite the visitors continued to run out the clock by throwing themselves to the floor in a bid to waste time, Matty Kay forced another superb save from Fletcher as his point black range header was pushed over the bar. Their game plan was almost undone in stoppage time as first Anthony Potts had a header pushed over from point blank range from another Steer throw before the rebound clipped the underside of the crossbar. However West couldn’t find a leveller as the final minutes of stoppage time saw the visitors see out the clock with the club secretary on the field to end a thrilling cup tie.