TWO late goals sent Worksop Town crashing out of the FA Trophy last night, in cruel fashion.
The Northern Premier outfit had more than matched their Conference Premier opponents Newport County for 86 minutes, but defensive lapses and tired legs allowed the Welshmen to edge through with a 3-1 win.
Mark Hudson returned from injury to take his place in the centre of the Worksop midfield, in a 4-5-1 system with Owain Warlow coming in at left-back for Steve Gardner.
Nerves were showing early on from the hosts as Chris Wood almost played Nat Jarvis in on goal, selling Jon Worsnop short with his back pass but the keeper managed to clear.
There was more relief when Worsnop watched Sam Foley’s 35-yard effort sail over the bar.
Worksop’s first real attack was a quick break that involved Jamie Jackson and ended in a low shot from Matt Young that Glyn Thompson had to get down well to save.
Hudson, who had received treatment from the physio during the pre-match warm up, lasted just 13 minutes as he limped off to be replaced by Gardner, forcing a reshuffle.
Gardner went to right-back, Wood to left-back, Warlow pushed up into midfield and McDonald swapped flanks, with Burbeary tucking inside.
Warlow should have done better when the ball reached him in the box after Jackson’s pace had unlocked the County defence and the striker had whipped the ball in, but the Welshman’s shot was blocked by Paul Rodgers.
Seconds later Ash Burbeary crashed a shot off the post and Jackson was denied at the back post, Tigers piling on the pressure in their best spell.
With the visitors insistent on going direct with the ball over the top, Worksop played the better football of the first half hour and Wood impressed the home support with an audacious volley from 30 yards that forced Thompson into a save.
A long ball out of defence from James Cotterill saw Jackson outpace the defence and although he went down in the box he only received a corner, which soon became three corners as they pressed for a goal at the end of the half.
At the other end a break with pace saw the ball come to Darryl Knights in the area and Gardner had to make a brave block.
The second half began with an improved County side holding onto the ball better, Lee Minshull firing over the bar with the first sight of goal.
The pace of Jarvis took him past Cotterill and in on Worsnop but his effort went all the way across goal.
A free-kick level with the penalty spot was sent low into the box by Burbeary for Tigers and although Jackson got there his sidefoot effort was blocked.
On 58 minutes the game got its first goal, and it was the visitors who struck.
David Pipe got the ball on the right hand side of the box, cut it back to Elliott Buchanan and he stroked it into the far corner of the net past Worsnop.
Gary Warren came agonisingly close to making it 2-0 six minutes later when he thumped a header against the crossbar from a dangerous corner.
Simon Clark responded by sending striker Craig King on for the ineffective Luke Sharry, and the Scot changed the game.
It was the substitute’s run that Jackson tried to pick out with a lofted ball, with McDonald in support, and with the County defence struggling a number of Tigers came close to getting a shot off.
But they were level on 71 minutes with a brilliant finish from McDonald.
The ball was nodded on by King, who got up high above his marker, and McDonald strode to the edge of the box before slamming a half volley past Thompson.
With their tails up Tigers charged forward again, King sliding it through for Jackson who went down under a challenge but the referee was unimpressed.
Jackson was sent clear by a slip in the County defence and as he tried to take the ball was clearly impeded but again referee Mr Simpson said no, as the striker got a shot off but hit the side netting.
County were rattled and dangerman Jackson had them worried as he picked up the ball near the corner flag and crossed dangerously but his team-mates couldn’t get there.
Worsnop pulled off a world class save to keep the score 1-1 when the ball came across from the left and Foley hit it first time towards the top corner, the keeper hurling himself through the air to palm it away.
He could do nothing with five minutes left as the ball dropped to Knights and he hammered a shot onto the bar, and substitute Jake Harris put the rebound over.
But a minute later it was 2-1, and it was Harris who found the net, his shot hitting Cotterill and looping up and over Worsnop into the net.
In the final minute it was game over, a long ball forward leaving Worsnop stranded, Harris streaked onto it and headed over the keeper into the net.
Worksop Town: Worsnop 7, Wood 7, Warlow 6, Young 7, Shiels 7 (Roberts 88), Cotterill 7, Burbeary 7, Hudson 6 (Gardner 13, 6), JACKSON 8, Sharry 6 (King 65), McDonald 7. Not used: Lowder, Nightingale.
Newport County: Thompson, Baker, Warren, Foley, Knights (Harris 80), Jarvis, Hughes, Pipe (Greening 90+1), Rodgers, Buchanan, Minshull. Not used: Potter, Doherty, Hatswell.
Goalscorers: McDonald 71; Buchanah 58, Harris 86, 89.
Referee: J. Simpson.
Assistants: B. Lamb, N. Gibbons.
Fourth official: S. Meredith.