Hanley Town made Emirates FA Cup history as they progressed to the third qualifying round of the competition for the first time ever with a 2-1 win over Northern Premier League side Chasetown.
The game had a dramatic conclusion, befitting of the match, as Chris Dagnall won the game for Hanley with a last-minute header.
Hanley Town manager Carl Dickinson had to make a late signing ahead of the game as goalkeeper Tommy Simkin was brought in to play after first choice keeper Ben Chapman had suffered a groin injury. Simkin came from Championship side Stoke City and, the young keeper certainly wasn’t fazed by the day as he put in an assured performance between the sticks as well as confidently plucking several crosses out of the air.
Both teams had excellent chances to open the scoring in the first 20 minutes of the game, with Jack Langston and Dilano Reid shooting just wide of Simkin’s goal for Chasetown. Meanwhile, at the other end, Hanley’s Lucas Green-Birch was unlucky not to score on 12 minutes when he bent the ball just wide of Curtis Pond’s goal.
Hanley grew in confidence throughout the first half by keeping the ball on the ground and being patient in their approach play, looking for an opening that they could exploit. It almost proved successful midway through the first half when Dagnall did well to hold up the ball before playing in Dickinson, who saw his shot go just over the crossbar.
The hosts should have been ahead just five minutes before the break when the ball fell to Josh Green outside the area. He went to pick his spot, the top corner of the goal but was to be denied by a stunning save from Pond.
After the interval, Hanley had two glorious chances to open the scoring. The first came when Louis Dodds rattled the post with a diving header that almost seemed certain to hit the back of the net. Then just minutes later, Green-Birch did well to flick the ball over the head of Chasetown defender Ryan Wyner before getting to the area and having a shot, which was well saved by Pond.
However, Pond couldn’t do anything just two minutes later when the ball fell to Green-Birch in the area. The former Market Drayton man didn’t get the cleanest of strikes on the ball. However, it was enough to find the back of the net to give Hanley Town the lead.
The goal forced Chasetown to step up a gear and, in all fairness, that is what they did with Liam Kirton hitting an effort just wide of the goal. However, they were level just a minute later when Harry Crooks equalised on 83 minutes when his shot went through the hands of Simkin.
Hanley didn’t let their heads drop despite conceding the late equaliser and, it helped them to find new levels of energy which ultimately led to Hanley getting the winner.
That winner came with just a minute left on the clock, when a beautifully weighted cross from Reece Jones found Dagnall who’s pinpoint header was only going to end up in one place and, that was the back of the net to restore Hanley’s lead.
After the game, I spoke to Hanley Town player-manager Carl Dickinson to find out where this moment ranks within his career.
Hanley Town: Simkin, Green, Walford, Pugh (Sanders, 86), Cotterill, Shotton, Jones, Dickinson, Dagnall, Dodds and Green-Birch (Campbell-Gordon, 79).
Unused subs: Chapman, Stubbs, Graves, Darlington and Barnsley
Chasetown: Pond, McGinnell, Evans, Wynter, Parsons, Haywood (Lund, 79), Kirton, Langston, Butlin, O’Callaghan and Reid (Crooks, 69).
Unused subs: Slater, Taylor, Curtis, Foster, Reily-Stewart.