LONG Buckby staged a remarkable recovery to beat Northumberland-based Ashington by a 3-2 margin at Station Road to reach the last 16 of the FA Vase competition.
The Colliers could easily have doubled their two-goal lead by the interval but then surprisingly succumbed to a second half penalty from Richard Bunting and further goals from Brad Harris and Danny Nelson.
Three years ago the Bucks’ also reached the fourth round before going down by the only goal at Whitley Bay who later won both the 2009 and 2010 finals at the new Wembley Stadium.
At least as many Ashington supporters as home fans turned up for a tie which only got the go-ahead in an 11.30am pitch inspection following sterling work by Station Road groundsman Jim Threadgold and his helpers.
So well did the Northern League powerhouses play in the first 45 minutes that a final scoreline of 4-0 or even 5-0 looked on the cards as peter Crouch look-alike Phil Bell caused havoc early on in the Bucks’ defence.
Bell had a shot cleared off the line by Ollie Wilkinson in the 20th minute but the Colliers still took a deserved lead midway through the first half when and Andrew Johnson corner was headed down by Bell for Stephen Young to blast home the opening goal.
Five minutes later Young gave a repeat performance with a header of his own which just crossed the goal-line following another corner from Johnson who then spurned a chance to make the half-time-score 3-0.
The Bucks’ only scoring chance in the first half was squandered by ex-Daventry Town striker Nelson who later became the home team’s match-winning hero with a peach of a goal in the 70th minute.
Before that the tide had turned when captain Richard Bunting converted a 47th minute penalty after Ashington goalkeeper Karl Dryden had brought down the goalbound Dan Holman. Ashington seemed to go to pieces after that!
Five minutes later a dazzling penalty area run by man-of-the-match Craig Kelly paved the way for an equalising goal by defender Harris.
Bunting’s midfield creativity then enabled Nelson to use his strength, turn on a sixpence and hammer home an excellent winner midway through the second period.
Shell-shocked Ashington were then reduced to 10 men after a poor challenge by Johnny Godsmark as the Bucks went on to bank another £1,200 by reaching the last 16 of this prestigious nationwide competition.
Elsewhere nine of the other 13 Vase ties contested were won by the away teams with Northern League title contenders Spennymoor catching the eye with a 5-1 win at Cadbury Heath.
King’s Lynn won by the only goal at Stockton-on-Tees but Vase favourites St Neots suffered a postponement at Gresley. The other UCL contestants, St Ives, went down 3-2 on the south coast at Poole.