OSSETT Town’s FA Carlsberg Trophy run came to a dramatic end last night as Blue Square Bet North side Solihull Moors left it late to snatch a 1-0 victory in the third qualifying round replay at Stade France.
Danny Spencer’s 88th-minute header saw Moors progress to the first round proper, and a money-spinning tie at York City, and leave Town wondering just how they hadn’t turned their excellent performance into a victory.
Moors, managed by former Queens Park Rangers player Marcus Bignot and including former Premier League player Lee Morris, bossed possession in the first half but Town stopper Ashley Connor didn’t have to do too much work to keep the visitors out.
The hosts soaked up pressure and could have snatched the lead against the run of play just a minute before the break but the returning Neil Towler saw his close-range effort superbly blocked by Jasbir Singh in the Solihull goal.
The closest Moors had come had been through Gavin Hurren, who saw his free-kick come crashing back off the bar with Connor beaten on the half-hour mark.
It was a different story after the break as Phil Sharpe’s men came flying out of the traps and took the game to their visitors.
Danny Frost, who looked the most threatening Town player throughout, stung the hands of Singh with a warning shot before the hosts were given a golden opportunity to break the deadlock ten minutes into the second half.
After some heavy Town pressure Hurren was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Lee Garside, who scored a last-minute penalty at the weekend to earn Town a draw and take the game to a replay, stepped up but saw Singh dive low to his right to make a fine save and keep the scores level.
The hosts didn’t let their heads drop after the miss and they thought they’d opened the scoring in the 64th minute but the referee disallowed Garside’s effort for an infringement in the lead up to the ball hitting the back of the net.
Chances continued to come as both sides looked for the winner before extra-time but it was Solihull who snatched it with two minutes to go.
Town did well to block an initial header from a Moors corner but Spencer followed up to power a header into the ground and beyond Connor and into the back of the net.
Things got worse for the hosts minutes later when Towler saw red for a late challenge on Singh.
It was a disappointing end to the night for the Evo-Stik Division 1 North club but Sharpe and fans can at least take positives from Town’s performance against higher-division opposition, not just against Moors but throughout the FA Trophy.
Ossett Town: Ashley Connor, Martin Scully, Andy Milne, Ryan White, Mark Haran, Ryan Laight, Danny Frost, Niall O’Brien, Lee Garside, Neil Towler, Luke Richardson. Subs: Danny Clapham, Kyle Cook, Mark Ryan, Andrew Catton, Matthew Storr.
Solihull Moors: Jasbir Singh, Philip Midworth, Dominic Langdon, Gavin Hurren, Stuart Pierpont, Danny Spencer, Andrew Francis, Junior English, Richard Walker, Lee Morris, Steve Jackson. Subs: Karl Broadhurst, James McPike, Will Richards, David Karonji, Darren Acton.
Referee: Christopher Kavanagh.