Tom Charters, Paul Byrne & Mark Head celebrate Tom's goalOn the weekend of the F.A. Cup quarter finals, the national T.V. companies would have been better advised to choose this epic cup semi-final as their live game. It was this season’s third meeting between the clubs and this match had all the attributes to make it one to remember for the fans. Sending offs, penalties, calamitous defending and brilliant finishing were all on show at the Memorial Ground, Borough Road.

After some early sparring, the visitors took the lead after a free kick was only half cleared and an 18 yard snap shot flew low into Martyn Stevenson’s net on seven minutes. Within five minutes, Dock had a chance to draw level, but Mark Head’s effort went narrowly wide. A Tom Charters cross on twenty minutes flew agonizingly wide, but two minutes later Dock drew level from the spot when Mark Head was fouled in the box. He got up to smash home the penalty to tie the game.

There then followed a dreadful first half defending display from Dock which gifted Horse and Jockey two goals to give them a 3-1 half time lead. On twenty nine minutes a free kick from all of 25 yards was misjudged by custodian Martyn Stevenson and the ball trickled over the goal line. Just one minute later, poor defending from a Jockey throw in allowed a simple near post tap in to make it 3-1.

Despite a late first half rally, which resulted in a mighty goal line scramble in the Jockey box, the visitors went into the break two goals ahead and confident of pulling off a shock.

HT: Dock 1-3 Horse and Jockey.

After a soul searching team talk from the management team, Dock went onto the offensive from the first whistle of the second period. Within two minutes the referee sent off a man from each side, Jamie Edwards from Jockey for raising and elbow, and Jon Clampitt (somewhat unfortunately) from Dock for retaliation. The dismissals appeared to hinder Jockey and galvanize Dock into a full on offensive of the visitors goal. Eventually, the Jockey’s defence was breeched on the hour mark, when Mark Head hit a rasping twenty yarder into the net.

The expected equalizer came on seventy two minutes, when after great work from Luke Hughes, Tom Charters (pictured top left) chipped an extravagant shot into the top corner of the visitors net to make it all square at 3-3!

The Dock forwards were now scenting blood and were going all out to win the tie inside ninety minutes. Probably guilty of pushing forward too much, Dock succumbed to a sucker punch fourth goal on a rare foray from Horse and Jockey on seventy seven minutes. After a great save from Martyn Stevenson, the resultant corner was again defended woefully and a free header was dispatched for the Jockey to regain the lead 3-4!

Dock once again rallied and was awarded another penalty for a trip inside the Jockey area. Mark Head hit a crisp shot low to the ‘keepers left, but he produced a magnificent save to deny his hat-trick. Not to be outdone, Head netted the equalizer on eighty three minutes to restore the balance, and the ninety minutes saw the sides’ level at 4-4.

FT: Dock 4-4 Horse and Jockey.

Five minutes into extra time, Martyn Stevenson made another fine save to deny Jockey again taking the lead. Dock then took the lead for the first time on 102 minutes through striker Rob Whyte (pictured below).

With both teams now running on empty after all three substitutes were made, the play got somewhat scrappy. Dock sealed the win two minutes from time, with a sixth goal, when Man of the Match, Mark Head despatched his fourth goal to seal a memorable win and a place in the final against old rivals Queens Park which will take place at Cammell Lairds FC on Wednesday 30th April.

The Dock’s resilience and never say die attitude shone through as brightly as the early spring sunshine and deservedly won them a place in this year’s final.

FT (A.E.T.): Dock 6-4 Horse and Jockey.

Dock. 3-5-2 (with substitues in brackets).
Stevenson, Byrne, Irvine (Saunders), O’ Hanlon (I. McGraa), Duckers, Hughes (Ryan), Clampitt, Owen, Charters, Head, Whyte
Rob Whyte Goal