|Paul Sykes celebrates at the final whistle|
But, Wigan captain Craig Haynes handled the ball in the penalty area in the 97th minute and 36-year-old Sykes kept his cool to slam home the spot kick and secure a tie with his old club Ossett Town in the Preliminary Round.
“It was fairy-tale stuff. Ash Flynn was on penalties last season and of course he has moved on so Syko said to me ‘I’m good for pens so I’ll have them as I’m confident’. Since I appointed him to penalties we have not had one until the last minute of today.
“If I’m being honest I had all faith in him. I thought if you’re going to give it to somebody, you give it to the most experienced player on the park. He stepped up and didn’t let us down.
“It was totally Roy of the Rovers and he’s like a 21-year-old in the dressing room. He’s got a smile from cheek to cheek. He’s loving it and he’s an inspirational leader for us and that’s one of the reasons I asked him to come here. His leadership is first class and he’s been absolutely brilliant for us.”
|Paul Cliff celebrates his first goal|
Doran Jordan and Liam Schofield both went close before half-time and with the second half looming, Emley were in control and a goal seemed imminent.
It took six minutes for the first goal of the second-half, but it was for Wigan – Cliff the goalscorer again. The strike was out of nowhere and totally against the run of play.
Wigan were happy and did not create much during the second half, but Cliff should have sealed the victory on 70 minutes when he broke through. The striker’s shot was weak and Armitage made an easy save – the miss would come back to haunt the visitors.
But an unfortunate defeat for Emley seemed on the cards as a host of chances were wasted or saved by Wigan’s goalkeeper Daniel Lever.
Manager Hepworth added: “With ten minutes to go I hadn’t stopped believing and the players certainly didn’t.
“But, I didn’t expect us to win it. We deserved something out of the game, that’s what I believed and with ten minutes to go I would have taken a trip to Wigan on Tuesday night.
“(Until injury-time) we couldn’t put the ball in the net. We dominated possession and out of the two teams we certainly played the better football.
“Fortunately we found two in the last few minutes.”
|Hepworth celebrates with Sykes|