MATCH REPORT | Squires Gate 1-2 West
Saturday 10th August 2019, FA Cup extra preliminary round
Squires Gate 1 (Egidi 90+2)
West 2 (Middleton 78, Grimshaw 85)
Resilient West booked an appointment with Stalybridge Celtic with a superb win against familiar FA Cup foes Squires Gate.
Both sides struggled to acclimatise to filthy conditions on the Fylde coast in a frayed first period, but West were by far the better team after the break and made the vital breakthrough with two goals in the final 15 minutes. Gate jangled nerves as they pulled a goal back in stoppage time, but the visitors were not to be denied a first win in the FA Cup since 2017.
As well as exorcising ghosts of 2016 and 2018’s eliminations at the hands of Gate, this win over a side that finished eighth in the NWCFL top flight last season should send confidence coursing through the veins of Brad Cooke’s side, with tails already up after an unbeaten start to the league campaign.
There did, however, seem to be little FA Cup magic dust sprinkled over the Brian Addison Stadium in a windswept first period that ventured on unwatchable. Passes were regularly blown straight out of play in both halves and Ash Woods’ shot over from outside the area was the sum total of West’s efforts in the opening period. Gate had more luck in eking out opportunities but ran aground at the feet of West keeper Andrew Jones, who saved well with his legs on two occasions to keep the scores level at the break.
The teams emerged from the sanctuary of the dressing rooms to find the maelstrom had subsided slightly, and a football match emerged from the gloom – the home side threatened first, sending a low shot just past Jones’ near post. But West soon grew to their task and the majority of the action took place at the other end. Matty Boland turned a Kris Holt cross the wrong side of the far post before Woods narrowly failed to connect with a low ball from the same source.
Thoughts were drifting to a Tuesday night replay at Brookburn Road, but just as West historians were dusting off their record books to mark a first goalless draw in 152 games, Cooke shuffled his pack decisively – introducing Dylan Moloney and moving Lee Grimshaw into the centre of the attack. Ten minutes later, West were ahead, Matthew Cook winning a free kick on the right wing, Boland delivering, and Chris Middleton powering a header into the net to cause pandemonium in the travelling support.
Grimshaw had a shot deflected wide shortly afterwards as West looked for a settler, but the former Prestwich man did get his first goal in black and white with five minutes remaining. Lee Gavin, irrepressible in midfield along with Holt and Josh Tinker, split the Gate defence with a through pass, Grimshaw rolled the ball into the bottom corner and now all roads led to Bower Fold.
West’s only disappointment will be that Gate breached their otherwise excellent defence in the second minute of stoppage time, Riccardo Edigi stooping to nod a cross inside the far post. There was time for one more scare as a lobbed effort dropped narrowly off target, but the afternoon belonged to West and the club can now look forward to what promises to be a memorable afternoon on Tameside.
West: A. Jones, Cook, Cooper, Tinker (C. Jones 61), Middleton, Eckersley, Grimshaw, Gavin, A. Woods (Moloney 68), Holt, Boland (Steer 88). Not used: Horner, B. Woods.
West media team man of the match: Lee Gavin.