Glossop North End struck at the start and end of their FA Vase Semi-Final first leg at AFC St Austell to plant one foot in The Final with a fine away win.
Lee Blackshaw opened the scoring with a wonder volley that came during a flurry of pressure in the opening stages and although the hosts rallied in the second half, Chris Willcock’s men will take a two-goal cushion into the second leg thanks to substitute Ben Richardson’s strike in added time.
Backed by a sizeable travelling support with an impressive selection of flags, the North West Counties Premier Division side bolted out of the blocks and put the frighteners on the hosts, with Blackshaw heading just over in the fifth minute.
AFC St Austell 0-2 Glossop North End
The FA Vase
Semi-Final first leg
Saturday 21 March
Poltair Park, St Austell
The pressure continued and the striker was rewarded for his efforts as he opened the scoring with a volley into the top corner just ten minutes later.
The Hillmen will have felt disappointed to have taken just a one-goal lead into the break as Saints keeper Jason Chapman was forced to make a smart save to deny Kieran Lugsden at close quarters, before Jason Carey sprinted past him only to see his effort cleared off the line.
He went close twice more before the break, with the hosts making hard work of things at a foggy Poltair Park.
Glossop continued to create more chances after the interval, but another goal was not forthcoming. Carey rattled the crossbar with a header after Tom Bailey had a goal chalked off for offside as the lowest-ranked side left in the competition clung on for dear life.
But they did weather that storm, and as the fog cleared the Cornish side started to take control midway through the second half.
Cheered on by just short of 2,000 spectators, including local MP Stephen Gilbert, they started to create some chances of their own, with visiting keeper Greg Hall needing to be on his guard several times as Liam Eddy in particular started to look a real menace.
Although they were getting balls into the Glossop box, they just couldn't find an equaliser. And they were made to pay for that when substitute Richardson made an almost instant impact with his side's second goal in added time, just minutes after taking to the field.
St Austell boss Phil Lafferty insisted his side was still in the tie at the final whistle, and will pick his troops up for the five-hour journey north for next week’s sold out second leg at Surrey Street.
AFC St Austell: Jason Chapman, Dan Lean, Martin Watts, Jordan Dingle, Lee Whetter, Martin Giles, Chris Reski, Ollie Brokenshire, Liam Eddy, Dan Nancarrow, Neil Slateford
Substitutes: Jared Sims, Ben Williams, Damon Mulready, Will Tinsley, Christian Pople
Glossop North End: Greg Hall, Michael Bowler, Matt Russell, Kelvin Lugsden, Dave Young, Martin Parker, Lee Blackshaw (Ben Richardson 88 minutes), Jason Carey, Tom Bailey, Kieran Lugsden, Eddie Moran
Substitutes: Danny White, Sam Hind, Sam Grimshaw, Richard Gresty