Northwich Victoria 2-3 West – West Didsbury & Chorlton AFC

Northwich Victoria 2-3 West

Friday 19th August 2022, FA Cup Preliminary Round

Northwich Victoria 2 (Whyte 22, Dunn 86)
West 3 (Elliott 27, Gabidon 69, Miller 87)
Att: 375

Curtis Miller’s sensational late goal settled a pulsating FA Cup tie at Northwich Victoria and sent West into the First Qualifying Round for the first time.

Miller’s 25-yard strike came seconds after the home side looked to have forced a replay through Ashley Dunn, and was the final twist in a game where Ben Elliott and Dontai Gabidon had already overturned a first-half Vics lead.

It was a perfect way to end West’s Preliminary Round curse, having fallen at this stage on five occasions. But in the opening stages at Wincham Park, it looked as though West’s wait for a First Qualifying Round appearance may go on as the home side took the early initiative.

Markell Foulds was in the right place in the right time to block a goal-bound shot, and although Gabidon struck a post with a 30-yard effort, the first 20 minutes belonged to Vics. Harvey White made the pressure pay midway through the first period, steering the ball over Andrew Jones after escaping the attentions of the West defence.

West gradually settled and were not behind for long. Gabidon was the architect, running through the midfield and sliding the ball through to Elliott, who confidently finished past the approaching Vics keeper.

The visitors were far more confident after the break, and the always-dangerous Gabidon flighted a cross inches wide of the far post. He was on target moments later – Ezeikel Eme held the ball up, and after the West number 11 had weighed up his options, he arced an unstoppable shot into the corner of the net.

It looked like West would ease to victory at this point, as chances began to flow – Miller going closest when his shot was blocked. But Vics rallied as the game entered the final ten minutes, and West’s nasty habit of conceding late appeared again as Whyte was able to nod home a corner.

But this time there was to be a memorable, and history-writing, final act – almost straight from the kick-off, Miller seized the ball and ran from the halfway line. The home defenders backed off, and Miller punished them with a swerving shot before celebrating with the delirious travelling support.

Miller’s third goal in four games was enough to secure passage to uncharted waters, with all eyes now turning to Monday’s First Qualifying Round draw.

West: A. Jones, Cook, Westall, Taylor (Delaney 56), Hampson, Foulds, Eme (Graham 90), Dickinson, Elliott, Miller, Gabidon (Hancock 73). Not used: Vayro, Ryan, Swift, Iacovou.

Eckersley’s Plumbers & Locksmiths Player of the Match: Curtis Miller.

Chris Rowley reaction