Lancashire FA United Co-Op Challenge Cup Quarter-Final
EIGHT GOALS, a David Brown hat-trick and a cameo appearance from Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman - who said the Lancashire Trophy wasn't entertaining?
UniBond Premier promotion-chasers Burscough certainly gave the understrength Reds a run for their money on Tuesday and extra-time for the second week running was certainly something Stanley could have done without.
Leam Richardson, Andy Tretton and Andy Todd in the right back role,all played the full 120 minutes of the quarter-final tie and could start at Gravesend tonight.
But it was also a chance for Andy Mangan, Danny Alcock, Danny Ventre and Brown to make a bid for their chance in the first eleven. Youngsters also got their opportunity with Shaun Tierney and Michael Lodge getting the nod while triallist Mark Boyd, from Gretna, aimed to shine in midfield.
And, at one stage, Paul Cook, Coleman and assistant manager Jimmy Bell were all on the pitch with a combined age of more than 110.
It certainly made it lively and, while the FA Trophy game at Worksop the week before was a dire game, this clash at Victoria Park got off to a hectic start.
Burscough, the conquerors of Coca Cola League One side Gillingham in the FA Cup first round this season, got off to a flying start with top scorer Tony Gray linking with the dangerous David Eaton and he finished well to slide the ball past Alcock.
However, Stanley went straight to the other end and Mangan found Brown who comfortably fired home from the edge of the area to immediately cancel out the opener.
Four minutes later, on nine minutes, the Reds were 2-1 up when Mangan's initial shot was blocked and reserve player Michael Lodge pounced to fire home.
Boyd, on trial after being released from the Scottish side, showed some nice touches and linked up with Cook in midfield.
With Stanley leading, the hope was they would go on and close the game out easily. But this season, the Reds have never made it easy in cup competitions.
Ryan Bowen was a threat on the left wing for the Linnets and he played in a great cross which Martin Crowder headed in off the underside of the crossbar to make it 2-2 with just 24 minutes gone.
Stanley were then shell-shocked on 54 minutes when Eaton raced to the by-line and did well to get a cross into the six yard box with Gray there to fire home through Alcock's legs.
But any thoughts of an upset were quickly banished thanks to Brown as he got on the end of Boyd's corner to fire home one minute later - although the Burscough media claimed it came off Peter Owens' legs.
That set up a lively finish which also involved a delay while the referee was swapped due to an injury.
Brown could have grabbed the winner but debutant keeper Zak Hibbert denied him and Tierney jinked into the box but fired wide. Gray rifled a strike straight at Alcock as the rain poured down and the conditions became slippy.
Coleman then made the first of his substitutions with Rommy Boco entering the fray eight minutes from time with all the Stanley fans praying he could come up with the goods with the threat of extra-time once more looming. He did a few of his tricks but the Burscough defence were there and, when he did get past them, Hibbert did well to take the ball off his foot as he lined up to shoot into an empty net.
And Burscough had a great chance at the death to clinch it but captain Bowen's fierce goalbound strike hit Ventre and bounced wide.
Then it was deja vu with the prospect of extra-time and penalties and the rain coming down thicker and faster.
Mangan broke but fired wide while assistant Bell then came on.
And the game soon turned in Stanley's favour when a sloppy tackle on Mangan by Bowen led to a penalty. After the chaos of last week's spot kick loss, it was a worry. Boco, however, always looked comfortable as he lashed the ball home.
It still wasn't over though as Eaton came close to equalising again but Alcock pushed away his shot much to the relief of the Red contingent.
Coleman made his appearance with 15 minutes left and was screaming at Boco to cross when the Benin international broke through but he shot instead - and Hibbert again saved. And the game was finally settled when Coleman back-heeled to Boco, he set up Brown who slotted home for his hat-trick two minutes from time to finally see off battling Burscough.
"It wasn't ideal to have extra time but it gave some of the lads a run out and they should benefit from that. I didn't really want to come on but we wanted to save most of the players for tonight," said Coleman.
- STANLEY play Southport at home in the semi-finals at a date still to be arranged with Kendal and Lancaster City in the other.
STANLEY: Alcock, Ventre, Richardson, Tretton, Todd, Tierney, Cook, Boyd (Bell 97), Lodge (Boco 82), Brown, Mangan (Coleman 105) Not used: Dibble.