Callum Lovatt’s late goal rescued a replay for Newcastle Town as they drew 1-1 with Congleton Town in the FA Cup Second Qualifying Round.
Newcastle were looking for their first home win of the season, but struggled to create in a scrappy game. Congleton took the lead on the stroke of half-time as Shakeel Jones Griffiths fired home a powerful shot from range.
Newcastle could not get back into the game in the second half, with Congleton giving nothing away in defence. However, with the last play of the game Callum Lovatt fired home the equaliser with what was Newcastle’s only real chance.
As has been their wont this season, Newcastle tried to get off to a fast start, with an early chance fired over the Congleton bar.
However, the hosts could not manufacture any other shooting chances in a tight opening period.
Instead, Congleton grew into the game, putting Newcastle under a period of sustained pressure. Newcastle had the composure of goalkeeper Joe Slinn and their centre-backs James Askey and Luke Dennis to thank for restricting the visitor’s chances.
The hosts were showing a more skilful style of play, but could not link up with the final ball, with Jake Lovatt caught offside on multiple occasions.
The half was punctuated by a series of cynical and petty fouls by both sides, although neither could build anything from the set piece.
Then, moments before halftime, Jones-Griffiths received the ball on the edge of the Newcastle box and fired an unstoppable shot past Slinn.
The hosts tried to regain parity in the last moments, with Tommy van der Laan forcing a fine save from David Parton with the last play of the half.
Newcastle tried to get back into the game right from the start of the second half, but still struggled to deliver the final balls needed. Early in the half, Jayden Hunter and Joe Hurst combined for the hosts, but Hurst’s shot was blocked by the defence.
That was as close as Newcastle came for most of the second half, as Congleton were able to manage the host’s attack and keep up the pressure.
Newcastle had the majority of possession, but Congleton were very comfortable with the host’s high ball tactics. Newcastle did not help themselves with the lack of precision on their final balls, with several promising positions lost.
The game was also becoming highly bad-tempered, with both sides committing a number of petty and aggressive fouls.
Neither side could manufacture anything off their set-pieces, as the game looked to be grinding towards a Congleton win.
However, a late burst of Newcastle pressure earned them a series of corners and throw-ins, the last of which fell for Callum Lovatt to fire into the bottom corner.
Newcastle Town Manager Robin van der Laan:
“If you score in the last couple of minutes, it feels more like a win, so we’re still in the FA Cup, which is what we wanted at the start of the day.
“It would have been nice to have won it, but I don’t think we really deserved it"
“We got dragged into a war of football if you like; it was scrappy, it was a battle and we didn’t use the ball well enough"
“We need to move the ball better when we have an opportunity and use that quality, you’ve always got to compete and earn that right to play, and when we do earn that right, we need to make sure we’re better with the ball.”