Tom Elliott broke Curzon Ashton’s hearts with a last-gasp goal to seal AFC Wimbledon’s spot in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup, having come back from three goals down to topple the non-league outfit.
Former Liverpool player Adam Morgan had put the Nash two goals to the good before half-time, before completing his hat-trick 15 minutes after the break.
But as the clock struck 80 at the Tameside Stadium, Elliott kick-started the comeback, before Dom Poleon and Tyrone Barnett brought the scores level and Elliott then headed in the winner in the dying seconds.
Curzon Ashton 3-4 Wimbledon
Emirates FA Cup
Sunday 4 December 2016
Tameside Stadium, Curzon Ashton
Winning club to receive £27,000
Dons manager Neal Ardley said: “At 2-0 down at half-time, you think we’ve got a real uphill task and at 3-0 you think maybe that’s us. We did say that we would finish stronger and we would get chances.
“We said we would do it together; anxiety can kill a team especially when you are expected to win. We bought Tyrone Barnett on at 3-0 down and that made a big difference.
“I’ve got mixed emotions, I’ve seen unbelievable character from our players but I feel for Curzon Ashton, they were unbelievable.”
Barely 30 seconds had passed when Morgan, wearing the boots of former Liverpool team-mate Jon Flanagan, put the Nash ahead, unleashing a fine 30-yard strike that left James Shea helpless between the sticks.
It wasn’t long before the hosts doubled their advantage, Morgan netting a cross from the left to beat Shea from six yards.
Adam Morgan celebrates one of his three goals
Just after the hour-mark, Morgan completed his hat-trick when he latched onto a clever pull back from Joe Guest.
The comeback was on, however, when Elliott found the back of the net with 10 minutes to go before Poleon added a second and Barnett headed in a third on 81 and 82 minutes respectively.
But the hosts’ fate was sealed when Elliott met a free-kick with a pinpoint header to allow the jubilant Dons progress.
Curzon Ashton manager John Flanagan said: “I’m like everyone else, I’m gutted. We were in a great position.
“I think in the last 20 minutes, we ran out of legs a little bit. You can see the difference between professional and semi-pro status, they put their big guys up front.
“On another day, we would have gone straight through but they got one at the death. I’m massively proud of my lads, I’m proud that we were able to take them on, and we were more than a match for them.”
Curzon Ashton: 1 Hakan Burton, 11 James Baillie, 2 Simon Woodward, 5 Jonathan Hunt, 6 Connor Hampson, 4 Iain Howard, 8 Luke Clarke, 10 Alex Brown, 3 Joe Guest, 7 Adam Morgan, 9 Niall Cummins.
Substitutes: 15 Jordan Wright for Guest 84, 12 Chris Rowney for Brown 86, 14 Liam Tomsett for Morgan 90+3.
Substitutes not used: 13 Cameron Mason, 16 Paul Ennis, 17 Rory Gorman, 18 Ryan Hall.
Head coach: John Flanagan
Goals: Morgan (1, 21, 62).
AFC Wimbledon: 1 James Shea, 2 Barry Fuller, 6 Paul Robinson, 34 Chris Robertson, 3 Jon Meades, 18 Dean Parrett, 8 Jake Reeves, 4 Dannie Bulman, 10 Dom Poleon, 9 Tom Elliott, 33 Lyle Taylor.
Substitutes: 23 Tyrone Barnett for Parrett 66.
Substitutes not used: 7 George Francomb, 11 Chris Whelpdale, 16 Tom Beere, 22 Sean Kelly, 24 Joe McDonnell, 31 Seth Owens.
Head coach: Neal Ardley
Goals: Elliott (80, 90+4), Poleon (81), Barnett (82).