REPORT | The Show Goes On & An!
By Jay Taylor
A late screamer from Will Annan keeps Tadcaster Albion’s play-off hopes alive after scraping past strugglers Gresley at the i2i Stadium.
The visitors who sit rooted to the bottom of the Evo-Stik East League, took the lead through Spencer Weir-Daley and looked to be going on to pick up three gigantic points. However, despite the below par performance from the Brewers, goals from Aiden Savory and Will Annan sealed a dogged victory on a scorching afternoon in Tadcaster.
With Sheffield FC losing, the gap for the final play-off spot is reduced to just three making Taddy’s trip to Pickering on Bank Holiday Monday, another must win game.
With Joe Lumsden suspended, Aiden Savory was the lone focal point in attack with Jake Rose, Aaron Hardy and Luke Porritt all coming into the starting line-up.
It could have been the perfect start for Taddy inside the first five minutes as Paddy Miller’s high raking free-kick found Will Annan at the back post but he couldn’t adjust his body in time to turn on target. It’s easy to look at the league table and take your eye off the ball against the lower ranked sides, but this has cost the Brewers before earlier in the season and Gresley started off with a sense of no fear. Dexter Morris-Clarke did brilliantly to win the ball back in the Albion penalty box before darting up the by-line only for his pull-back to be crucially hooked away to safety.
This was a warning sign for the hosts but they can continued to look a bit edgy as Devante Reittie got the better of Chris Howarth but his fierce strike thumped into the chest of Paddy Miller. With Gresley’s game plan to get bodies behind the ball and frustrate Taddy, this allowed the likes of Paddy Miller to venture into the opposition’s half and this was the case on 14 minutes with the defender striking from range only for Ben Allsop to gather.
Nevertheless it was the Derbyshire based outfit who were looking the likelier to opening the scoring and in fact they did find the net on the quarter of an hour mark but the offside flag came to Tadcaster’s rescue.
Six minutes on and things looked to have resumed to normality as a brilliant driving run from Luke Porritt saw the winner brought down, penalty kick. Normality this was not though as the ever-reliable Aaron Hardy stepped up but side-footed off the left-hand post to keep the match scoreless.
The unpredictable contest took another twist soon after as relegation threatened Gresley put the cat amongst the pigeons by breaking the deadlock. Connor Deards threaded a through ball to Spencer Weir-Daley left-footed effort beat Michael Ingham.
Now it was time to see what Simon Collins’ men were made of, and after already being given one penalty, they had a massive shout for a second on 36 minutes when Miller’s free-kick looked to be clearly handled by a Gresley defender but referee Matthew Sowerby wasn’t convinced.
The second half had to be several gears better from the home side and it was a brighter start, but Gresley continued to pose a threat on the counter attack. Morris-Clarke won a 50-50 dual thus opening a 3 v 1 scenario but Albion had Aaron Hardy to thank who made an integral last ditch challenge to eliminate the danger.
The visitors were making it incredibly difficult for Taddy as they continued to frustrate the home fans with steely defending, to which they deserve great credit for. That man Weir-Daley almost made it a day to remember for Gresley as his fizzing strike from the right-side of the box whistled inches wide of the mark on 64 minutes.
With time ticking on and the temperature only rising, Josh Barrett was thrown on for his first appearance since undergoing shoulder surgery in January, which allowed the giant Harry Coates to be used as an emergency centre forward.
And the break-through for Tadcaster came soon after on 75 minutes as Paddy Miller’s thumping free-kick could only be parried by Ben Allsop and quickly on the scene was Aiden Savory who cleverly guided his 12th of the season into the back of the net.
Lift-off! The home fans were pumped and in excellent voice from this point as they sensed the opportunity to go on and take maximum points.
With the kitchen sink now being launched at Gresley, Casey Stewart went remarkably close to completing the comeback. Annan danced up the left wing before pulling back to last week’s man of the match Stewart but he just couldn’t quite get the ball out of his feet which resulted in his dug out shot saved.
This wasn’t to be the last chance though as Taddy did take the lead in dramatic fashion with four minutes left on the clock. Luke Porritt found Will Annan just inside the penalty box and he effortlessly feinted past two defenders before smashing an unstoppable strike into the roof of the net. This sparked jubilation around the i2i Stadium as Annan and co hopped the hoardings to celebrate with the stalwarts.
You would think that that would have been that though wouldn’t you? Oh no. The visitors had a glorious chance to take a point in the last minute of normal time. A short back header from Coates sent Devante Reittie clean through on goal with only Ingham to beat. The number nine drove into the penalty box, opened his body up but was kept out by an exceptional game-winning save from the Albion skipper.
A result that didn't look likely and Gresley deserve a lot of praise for their efforts but it's back-to-back comeback victories for the Brewers which keeps them in the chase.
Full-Time: Tadcaster Albion 2-1 Gresley
Tadcaster: Ingham©, Hardy (Barrett 70), Howarth, Rose, Coates, Miller, Annan, Davidson, Savory, Stewart, Porritt
Unused: Hodges, Savage
Gresley: Allsop, Steele, Haines, Lansdowne, Smith©, Sturgess, Morris-Clarke, Heartfield, Reittie, Deards, Weir-Daley
Subs: Branch, Edwards, Jeynes