Ambergate FC showed true character to get themselves into the DCFA Junior South Cup quarter final as Sam Hicking pounced in injury time to secure a fortunate 5-4 win over Melbourne.
The game started extremely badly for ‘Gate as Melbourne took the lead after two minutes. A free kick was headed across goal by an unmarked Melbourne player to another unmarked teammate who tapped in from less than a yard out.
Melbourne then doubled their lead with just over five minutes on the clock. A long throw was headed towards goal and kept out well by Jason Hooley but the ball fell to a Melbourne forward who finished unchallenged.
Still this did not seem to wake the Ambergate players up and Melbourne were unlucky not to be even further in front as Ambergate struggled to clear their lines.
Ambergate’s only hope was coming from the combination play between Richard Clark and Andy Stevenson as they carved out a number of decent opportunities between them.
Ambergate had a couple of good penalty shouts before one was awarded as neat play from Stevenson freed Sam Hicking who was upended. Craig Tipton stepped up and sent the ‘keeper the wrong way.
Ambergate now started looking a bit better but Melbourne were further ahead before half-time. A clumsy challenge by Sam Barsby in the back of a forward was punished as the referee awarded a penalty, which was tucked away.
The tide started to turn in the second half as Ambergate realised that a quarter-final place was slipping away. Chances were being created but not taken as time started to tick on.
The second half deadlock was finally broken on 63 minutes and it was Ambergate who got themselves back in the game. Shaun Bestwick beat two players to get into the box and laid the ball off to Richard Clark. Bestwick looked for the return but Clark dispatched it with power across the ‘keeper from a tight angle.
Now Ambergate looked like the only team in the game and the comeback was complete seven minutes later. A free kick curled in from Bestwick was met by Craig Tipton, who headed low to bring the scores level.
Ambergate looked set to grab a winner but were hit on the break by Melbourne. Jack Ferguson failed to deal with the Melbourne right winger who crossed for a forward to volley home with 11 minutes left on the clock.
The tie seemed to be going away from Ambergate but they were again awarded a penalty with five minutes left. Andy Stevenson received the ball and looked to turn but was tripped and the referee blew for the third penalty of the game. Craig Tipton again sent the ‘keeper the wrong way and sealed his hat-trick.
The game now seemed destined to go into extra time. However, this was not to be the case. Ambergate were awarded a free-kick in their own half which was struck long by Tipton and looked to be sailing out of play as both teams watched it in the air. As it arrived at the back post, Melbourne left it to go out but Sam Hicking had made a run and headed it into the net from an acute angle.
The referee blew seconds later and Ambergate can count themselves fortunate to be in the quarter-final after the poor start they had against a decent Melbourne Dynamo side.