Stockport Town progressed in the Buildbase FA Vase on Friday evening after a hard-fought 4-3 victory away at North West Counties Premier Division side Northwich Victoria.
The Lions took a big scalp in this season's competition as boss, Dave Wild, returned to Townfield where he was Assistant Manager for a period, before taking up his role at Stockport Town in January this year.
Goals from Tyler Edwards, Andrew Fitzgerald and an Aaron Dwyer brace were ultimately the difference on the night, with Northwich replying through Yaw Gyimah, Brian Matthews and a late consolation from Olly Walker.
Stockport began the match the brighter of the two sides and had chances early on from Tyler Devlin, Conor Downes and Ben Halfacre in the opening 20 minutes.
The visitors took the lead in the 22nd minute as Edwards, a former Vics player, fired home at the far post following Ruben Abreu’s cross.
Just ten minutes later and the Lions almost doubled their lead through Jamie Hinchliffe, whose shot just cleared the crossbar. However within a minute of that miss, the hosts had their equaliser as Gyimah slotted home a cross from six-yards.
On the stroke of half-time Downes raced past Vics bodies and into the penalty area before dragging a shot across goal, screaming for a Lions player to tap in, but no one was there to capitalise as both sides went in at the break even.
The second half saw Northwich with a slight downhill advantage on the Townfield pitch, and an abundance of pace up front, however Town’s possession kept the home side at bay as the heavens opened over the Cheshire night sky.
With 57 minutes on the clock and Wild’s lions retook the lead as Fitzgerald headed home from a corner, left completely unmarked in the Vics penalty area, and duly headed past James Longdin in goal.
As the Lions continued to press forward, refusing to sit back and defend their lead, Vics came close to catching out Stockport’s defence, if it wasn't for Dylan Forth’s world-class save to deny Joshua Kavanagh.
But just six minutes later the away side had a two-goal cushion as substitute Dwyer fired into the far corner after driving into the box from the right-wing, sending the travelling Lions fans ecstatic.
Edwards almost rubbed salt in Vics fans wounds as the Town attacker danced his way past four players with sublime skill, and into the box, but his final touch before striking eluded him as Longdin smothered the ball.
Just under 15 minutes to play and the result looked to be put to bed as the Lions struck a fourth past Longdin. Dwyer once again picking the ball up on the right and driving in on goal, before striking on target via a deflection off Vics captain, Reece Lyndon.
The final ten minutes would see Northwich push everything they had forward and they grabbed a goal back through Matthews after the home side earned a penalty, earned seconds after hitting Forth’s post.
As Stockport looked to see the game out late on, Victoria’s late pressing paid off as Walker struck late into injury time, heading past Forth, and leaving Town with a nervous minute to play after the quick restart.
But despite any late nerves the Lions held on, much to their fans and coaching staff’s delight. Stockport progress into the next round where they will face a trip to another North West Counties club, local Greater Manchester side, West Didsbury and Chorlton, on Saturday 23rd September.
Lions boss, Wild, was full of praise for his entire squad as they pulled off a big upset against superior opposition. He said: “As a group we were much better tonight, and my main positive is,I know the result is 4-3 and people might say ‘what are you on about’, but the back four was great tonight along with the keeper, and I see this as a 4-1 in my eyes.
“I didn't think it was a penalty, and then they score lat on from a set-piece, but collectively I’m very pleased.”