It’s never over until the final whistle blows in football, and Dean Perrow proved just that as he snatched a dramatic 95th-minute winner for Chasetown at Mickleover Sports.
The play swung back and forth between the sides throughout an excellent encounter, with both enjoying periods of domination and the result was in doubt right up until Perrow’s stoppage time strike.
A fast-paced start saw the home side look the stronger of the two relegation-threatened sides over the opening minutes, while Chasetown’s first attack saw Gary Birch intercept a defender but his speculative lob went just wide of Damon Clarke’s post.
Sports looked set to take the lead in the 12th minute but the Scholars defence somehow cleared skipper Liam Walshe’s effort off the line, while debutant Chasetown keeper Haydn Whitcombe smothered the ball before Keiran O’Connell could shoot.
The home side were certainly in control, Darren Stride alertly clearing Karl Ashton’s 17th-minute cross while at the other end Dean Perrow forced Clarke into his first save of the evening.
Perrow seemed certain to give the Scholars the lead on the half-hour after belting down the left and dodging around Clarke but his shot from a tight angle clipped the top of the crossbar and went out for a goal kick.
Chasetown looked stronger as the half progressed and out of nowhere took the lead on 36 minutes when a gap in the home defence appeared allowing Jimmy Turner to fire home from close range.
The goal transformed the game and suddenly the Scholars were on top, a flicked header from Birch then finding Perrow who tried to round Clarke again but this time the Sports keeper got down low to save.
On 40 minutes Chasetown’s lead was doubled when a break down the left saw Kingsley James’ shot initially blocked by Clarke but Perrow fired the rebound home with the defence stranded.
The game had turned completely around in the space of just a few minutes and seconds later Perrow looked set to make it three but his shot bounced back off the upright and back into Clarke’s arms.
The second half began at a slightly slower pace with James escaping a booking for a challenge on keeper Clarke while a free kick from the right of the area from Danny Martin curled straight into Whitcombe’s hands. The Worcestershire-based keeper was certainly turning in a reliable performance on his club debut in place of the suspended Ryan Price.
The hosts pulled one back on 64 minutes when Eric Graves crossed from the left under pressure and former Scholar Alex Steadman was in position to fire beyond Whitcombe.
James’ free kick went over the bar as the Scholars tried to restore their two-goal lead, while Steadman again broke through down the left seconds later but skied his shot high over the bar.
Sports were certainly rediscovering their strength from the first quarter of the game, Richard Teesdale blocking Kevin Grocott’s shot on 73 minutes but the Scholars attack were still working hard, Birch the next to go close but his low shot was dragged wide.
With eight minutes to go the scores were level when a free kick from the left was played on to Graves in front of goal and he just managed to connect to find the net at the far post.
Four minutes later Steadman’s shot was blocked on the line by Farmer before Karl Ashton rounded Whitcombe but his strike was denied by the offside flag, Ashton picking up an injury in the process and leaving Sports to play the final minutes with ten men.
Deep into added time the Scholars’ efforts paid off when the ball was played back to Perrow in space on the left and he rifled a shot past the stranded Clarke to give Chasetown a superb victory with almost the last kick of the match.
With the Scholars now up to 14th in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier table, they now prepare to face Bradford Park Avenue this Saturday (November 26), kick-off 3pm, while next Tuesday will see them take on Northwich Victoria (7.45pm) subject to the Vics’ involvement in an FA Carlsberg Trophy replay at Ilkeston.
Mickleover: Clarke, Grocott, Strzyzweski, Walshe (c), Kellogg, Land, Graves, Martin, Ashton, O’Connell, Steadman. Subs: Hoyle, Pawley (O’Connell 62), Farthing (Martin 81), Everett-Elliott (Strzyzweski 83), Nelson.
Chasetown: Whitcombe, Farmer, M Branch, Slater, Turner, Teesdale (c), Reid, Stride, Birch, Perrow, James. Subs: Smith (Birch 84), Hands (Stride 62), Westwood, Wright (Reid 88), Edwards.