Emley set up chance of promotion play-offs with win over Barton Town while rivals Winterton lose
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Going into the day's fixtures, Winterton Rangers were second and in control of earning a possible promotion play-off place with third-placed Emley needing to win and hope their rivals failed to beat Hallam to have any chance of snatching the runners-up spot in the Toolstation NCE Premier, writes Martin Eastwood.
With North Ferriby having already wrapped the title up it has been a two-way fight for the second place for a number of weeks between Winterton and Emley and it looked to be going Rangers’ way until a big twist at the weekend as they lost while the Pewits won 3-0.
All Emley could do was to win and hope for the best. They made a great start, Iyrwah Gooden looked to open the scoring in the first minute when he was in sight of goal but the keeper saved.
It was all Emley for the first few minutes, Donae Lawrence with a half chance which earned a corner but it was cleared, the news came through that Winterton had taken an early lead.
At the same time, Barton got a hold in the game and created some chances themselves, a header at the far post was inches wide and from the resulting corner the shot was put wide.
But possession and territory swung back in Emley's favour and they started to look threatening, a free-kick was awarded 20 yards out for a foul on Gooden, Hardaker smashed into the wall and it was eventually cleared.
At the other end the visitors again put pressure on the Emley defence, Dec Lambton saw a clearance charged down but the defence managed to get back to see the danger out.
Back down the other end, Lawrence, beat his defender and flashed a ball across goal, too fast for Gooden to latch onto and then Clegg had a shot saved as the Pewits looked to turn the screw.
That screw was well and truly turned when Emley took the lead, a bouncing ball was not cleared by the Swans' defence and sat up nicely for Paul Walker to find to the net from 18 yards out.
Jake Kelly replaced Clegg and Kelly was heavily involved in the remaining few moments of the first half, first, he latched on to a failed back header but could not hit the target but just a minute later it was 2-0.
Great work in midfield saw a great bit of interchange play between Gooden and Kelly and the final ball sat up nicely for Kelly to fire in a netbuster and the half-time whistle was only seconds away.
The second half took a while to get going and the drama was still a long way off as news of a second Winterton goal came through, it looked very much like Emley would have to settle for third place, a brilliant achievement in itself though.
Emley went further ahead as a corner on the left was met by a header at the back post which was parried by the keeper but only back to the boot of Rikki Paylor who slammed home in front of the shed, an unassailable 3-0 lead for the Pewits, but all in vain or so it seemed.
Within two minutes, news of a Hallam goal at Winterton, small hope for Emley fans, but Barton looked threatening, another header was just wide, then they were desperately unlucky when a powerful shot cannoned off the crossbar, then a long range shot flew wide.
Emley had the ball in the net a fourth time, but an offside flag cut short celebrations.
Those celebrations were notched up a bit more again. however, when Hallam equalised at Winterton.
Elliot Harrison replace Alex Metcalfe and he was lively, within a couple of minutes blazed a shot over after creating space, Walker was then replaced by Cassius-Gill but there was a massive cheer from the shed as it became apparent that Hallam had snatched the lead in Lincolnshire, the destiny of second place was falling into Emley's hands.
Another change for Emley, Eyles replacing Gooden as the minutes ticked down, then Dry coming on for Lawrence, almost making an immediate impact only for his wonderful curling shot to just not curl enough as it went a couple of inches wide of the right hand post.
Barton saw another header go wide into stoppage time and there was an air of celebration among the Emley fans as the seconds ticked by.
Then perhaps the biggest cheer of the afternoon as word spread of a fourth Hallam goal, unbelievably, Winterton's grip on second and their 20-game unbeaten run was coming to a dramatic end on the scheduled last day of the season.
The final whistle went, the Emley fans and players celebrated knowing that the destiny of a possible promotion play-off was now, amazingly in their own hands for the first time in months.
Ironically, Emley now need to avoid defeat to Hallam themselves tomorrow night to keep it in their hands.
Finally the players left the pitch, and the drama could be reflected on with Emley now just four points adrift with two games left to get them.