F.A.Cup Preliminary Round Replay (1/9/87)
A milestone in the club’s history as the Dragons entered the F.A.Cup for the first time. The initial tie in Kent three days earlier had been an entertaining 0-0 draw with Gerry Warner’s brilliant “double” save earning the ‘Hoe a replay. Our Southern League opponents were effectively a Division above us but found themselves on the back foot from the whistle as we took the game to them and created several early chances with Keith Pope and Peter Licence going close. It was Erith who took the lead however as Hoyt intercepted a back pass in the 20th minute and slotted the ball past Warner. The Dragons recovered from this blow and equalized 10 minutes later when Chris Dines’ cross from the right was headed back at the far post by Licence into the path of Gary Harvey who scored with a low shot to the keeper’s left. Wivenhoe pressed the self destruct button again in the 38th minute when a needless handball gave Hall the opportunity to score from the penalty spot. Within 60 seconds Erith had the ball in the net again as Beagley beat two defenders before firing past Warner only to see the effort ruled out by the Referee for offside.
Erith began the second half on top but the Dragons gradually battled back and levelled in the 63rd minute when Gary Higgleton’s fine cross was met by Paul Harrison who beat visiting keeper Morgan with a superb diving header. Shaun Gascoyne was beginning to make his mark in the midfield and his 72nd minute pass to Harrison saw the striker hold the ball up before turning his marker and drilling a shot inches wide. Morgan saved brilliantly from Harrison minutes later, again after good work by Gascoyne who had combined with Harvey. Both sides could have snatched victory in the closing stages as Hoyt and Dines went close at either end.
Into Extra Time and Beagley headed straight at Warner from close range before the Dragons took the lead for the first time in the 104th minute. Dines did well on the right and sent in an inch perfect cross for Harrison to meet on the edge of the box with a brilliant volley that screamed into the back of the net, leaving Morgan grasping at thin air. The visitors never seemed to recover from this blow as Pope and then Richard Reynolds went close before it was all over for Erith in the 114th minute as Harrison carried the ball from the halfway line and held off the defence before unleashing a glorious low drive from a full 30 yards out past Morgan’s despairing dive to complete the best hat trick I have EVER seen in all my years of watching football. Pope almost added a 5th goal in the dying moments to bring to an end a memorable night under the Broad Lane floodlights.
TEAM: Gerry WARNER, Gary HIGGLETON, Wayne WARD, Nick BENNETT, Richard REYNOLDS, Shaun GASCOYNE, Keith POPE, Gary HARVEY, Paul HARRISON, Chris DINES, Peter LICENCE. Non-Playing Subs: Ian EDWARDS, Russell WOODALL.
(Keith Pope in action against Erith)