Whitby Town scraped past a battling Winsford United side on Monday night to secure a place in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup.
The Seasiders will now face Spennymoor Town in the next stage, a week on Saturday, but were made to work hard for the victory by their Cheshire opponents.
The club has also banked £3,000 in prize money from the victory, and could add a further £4,500 to that should they win at Brewery Field.
Chris Hardy named an unchanged side, giving Saturday’s starting XI a second bite of the cherry, but their task was made harder with barely four minutes on the clock.
A lofted free-kick from the hosts found its way through to Danny Egan via a misplaced header from Kieran Weledji, and the United man nodded over Shane Bland from close range to give the North West Counties Premier Division side a dream start.
Whitby mustered a response as quickly as the ball had hit the back of the net. Dale Hopson saw a low 18-yard volley zip past Michael Langley’s right-hand upright, before Mikey Roberts was sent clean through by Callum Martin, only to be thwarted by a low save, just inside the penalty area.
The visitors kept knocking on the door and tested Langley again not long after.
Danny McWilliams found an opening on the left-hand side and sent in an inviting ball for Steven Snaith, who headed low across Langley, but his reactions denied the Town skipper as he pushed the attempt onto the crossbar, before Ward cleared.
The hosts looked dangerous going forward despite Whitby’s pressure and Nathan Cotterell worked an opening on the edge of Whitby’s penalty box following some neat play with Kyle Riley, but could only fire his shot wide.
A break finally did come for Chris Hardy’s men though, just seven minutes ahead of half-time.
Hopson picked up the ball on the edge of the 18-yard box and his deflected pass picked out Matthew Tymon, who skipped past two men and kept his composure to slot the ball under Langley from close range.
Despite Whitby shading the first half, Winsford kept their heads up and pushed the Blues all the way in the second period, with a number of chances opening the game up.
It was the men from the Turnbull Ground who had the opening opportunity of the half, with Hopson failing to connect with a Roberts cross before Adam Gell attempted to test Langley with a header, but only forced an easy save low to the gloveman’s right.
At the other end, Louis Johnson, who had just been booked for a heavy challenge through the back of Tymon, sent a dangerous ball to Bland’s far post, but it evaded the touch of either a Winsford or Whitby body.
Moments later, the hosts came back on the offensive. First-half subsitute Scott Taylor picked up on a loose Weledji touch to fire a powerful effort at Bland, who produced a great save low to his right, ensuring Dale Jennings couldn’t pick up on the rebound in the process.
Both sides continued to push on unphased and Whitby soon found another opening.
Martin got down the right hand side and played the ball across the face of goal that just evaded the advancing Roberts.
Winsford quickly got the ball away and proceeded to fire more warning shots at Bland.
Cotterell dragged a 25-yard shot just wide, before Jennings set Riley free with a pin-point pass, only for the Winsford captain to blaze over the crossbar from a tight angle.
The feeling around the ground was that a goal for either side was coming and it finally arrived, 66 minutes in.
McWilliams was brought down under a strong challenge, winning a free-kick close to the touchline.
Martin stood over it and sent in an inswinging cross, which found Snaith well placed to fire home from close range after escaping his marker.
Whitby’s goal gave them an extra lift and their quest to kill the game off got underway. Roberts found space on the left edge of the penalty area and looped a shot towards goal, but saw his curling effort head over the crossbar with Langley rooted.
Roberts continued his hard work and soon worked another opening, this time for Snaith, but the Whitby captain could only drive straight at the Winsford stopper.
As the game neared its end, the home side proved that they still had danger in them despite Whitby taking the lead.
Jennings whipped in a teasing ball from the left for substitute Brandon Moores, who escaped his man but headed just inches over the bar.
A healthy home crowd willed on their team, and buoyed by their support, the hosts continued to push on with goalkeeper Langley even joining attacks, but it was Whitby who held firm, easily dealing with anything Winsford sent towards their goal.
The diminutive Taylor sent in a late threatening ball from wide, which Tymon managed to head out, before the referee’s whistle sounded to confirm Whitby’s place in the next qualifying round.
Winsford United: Langley, Clarke, Ward, Rothwell (Moores ’70), Duckworth, L. Johnson, Jennings, Brazel, Riley (c), Egan (Taylor ’30), Cotterell. Subs not used: Tierney, S. Johnson, Mellor, Jenyons, Warburton.
Whitby Town: Bland, Martin, McWilliams, Weledji, Bythway, May, Gell, Hopson, Roberts (Round 90+3), Tymon, Snaith. Subs not used: Bullock, Robinson, McTiernan, Hume.
Man of the match: Matthew Tymon – a battling and goalscoring performance from the striker who was the victim of a number of heavy tackles across the pitch. Looks to be back to his best.