Salford City, 3-0 down with five minutes to go. FC United supporters singing about going to Wembley. And then…And then…Jamie Rother, on as a sub, hits a shot that clips an FC player and flies into the goal to give the Ammies, what everyone thinks, is a consolation for a long afternoon's slog against a team flying high a full division above.
And then…And then…Nathan McDonald, through in the area, rounds the FC keeper and gets pulled down. Keeper gets sent off. McDonald picks himself up to convert the penalty. Could the miracle be on? Salford pile forward. Deep into injury time there's a free kick on right wing. Everyone's in the box, including Salford goalie Ritchie Branagan…
FC, with a player donning the keeper's gloves and their centre half already subbed, look like they're about to crack. All it needs is a perfect centre from the free kick and who knows…an incredible result is on the cards.
Steve Yarwood lines up to take the kick. With everyone waiting for a cross he tries to trick the FC defence with a strike on goal. The ball sails over the bar. And the final whistle goes. Salford are out of the FA Cup. But they sure gave FC the fright of their footballing lives.
Earlier it had all seemed so comfortable for FC. The Ammies were just not able to get their normal passing, pressing game going. FC having too much space and time. It was no surprise when the Rebels took a deserved lead after half an hour, the ball squared for Nicky Platt to finish in emphatic style.
But just a few minutes later, Salford could and should have equalised, Rob Kinsella rounding the keeper but hesitating just long enough for a zillion FC defenders to swarm back and block. Half time 1-0.
Within minutes of the second half opening, FC increased the lead. Platt's shot being turned onto the bar by Ritchie Branagan, only to bounce down over the line before another FC attacker nodded the ball in to make sure. 2-0.
FC were now strolling, Branagan having to make a series of saves to keep Salford in the match at all. He could do nothing to stop FC taking a three goal lead when a shot rebounded off his post and Platt again got there quickest to complete his hat-trick.
Salford looked doomed. And then…And then…That incredible last minute fight back which almost rescued a draw. Cup ties don't come much more exciting than this, er, last five minutes…
In the end, the Ammies could hold their heads high. A top fight back.
Despite the huge gap in resources the Mancs were given a fright in this huge local derby which saw almost 1300 people flock to Moor Lane. Now the Ammies can kick on in the league, get promotion and maybe meet FC United on a joint footing next season. Salford City needs more days like this.
Salford City come back down to earth with a home league fixture against Cammell Laird this Tuesday night. Kick off 7:45pm £7/£3
Photos by Andrew Goudie and Gareth Lyons
Main photo by Gareth Lyons: Nathan McDonald converts Salford's last minute penalty