29th January 2000 - Nelson 0 - 2 Warrington Town
- Warrington Guardian report:
ALL the odds were stacked in Warrington Town's favour in Saturday's crunch cup tie
although the gusty wind was a hindrance to both teams. But despite Town favouring from
Nelson's misfortune they made hard work of this win. Nelson were late to arrive due to
traffic congestion in Warrington and their players had no time to warm up as the kick-off
had already been delayed for 20 minutes. Then after just nine seconds of this North
Western Trains League Division Two Trophy semi-final first leg the Nelson goalkeeper was
crocked in a challenge with Town's Gavin McDonald. The eager Town striker clipped James
Davies' knee with his boot as the two raced for an Ian Callaghan long ball which had hung
in the wind.
The game was held up four minutes while Davies received treatment but was eventually carried off the field with ligament damage and striker Nigel Coates came off the substitute's bench to take his place in goal. When chief playmaker Callaghan powerfully struck a 30-metre effort straight at Coates a minute later it seemed a sure sign that Town would pepper the emergency 'keeper with shots to test his nerve and abilities.
But it did not happen. Town only managed three shots on target throughout the game and scored from two of them. Neil Holden banged in both goals. The first came in the 22nd minute when he used every yard of his pace to be first to another long hanging ball by Callaghan and picked his spot to the left of the disorientated 'keeper.
Nelson, with the wind at their backs, tried to respond immediately and three chances in the next three minutes were the closest they came to scoring. A wicked wind-assisted bounce left Town defender Steve Cartledge stranded as Mark Robinson sped clear for Nelson but goalkeeper Neil McCormack rushed off his line to make a superb save with his legs at Robinson's feet. From a corner winger Glen Little blasted the ball on to the cross bar and then from a free kick striker Jonathan Irvine looped a free header over the bar from two yards.
Thirteen minutes into the second half McDonald scurried after a Robbie Preidt pass and the Town striker's rasping drive was parried to safety excellently by Coates. Town piled on the pressure but nearly got caught out on a counter-attack. Town had been dominating territorially and McCormack had drifted several yards outside of his box. Pacy Robinson got round him but was forced wide and Cartledge saved the day for Town when he got back to block Robinson's eventual shot.
In the final minute Town secured their valuable second goal from a Neil Morgan corner. Mike Tandy's header was touched in by Holden. Town had a further let off in injury time. McCormack accidentally handled the ball outside of his area and was lucky not to be shown the red card. He kept his wits about him and scrambled back to his goal line just in time to dive and stretch to save Irvine's quickly taken free kick. It could prove to be invaluable reactions by the talented young 'keeper.
But with Nelson creating as they did, this semi-final is far from over yet and Town will need to take more care in their own area if they are to hold on to their lead at Victory Park, Nelson on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.
Town: Neil McCormack, Andy Tague, Steve Cartledge, Ian Callaghan, Mike Tandy, Mark Ashton, Neil Holden, Dave Pick, Gavin McDonald, Robbie Preidt, Neil Morgan. Subs used: Kevin Tyrell, Andy Barr. Sub not used: Alan Blair.