Scott Wilson heads on goal (James Harrison)
THE Magpies’ season ended in heartbreak down at Gloucester after a wild second half saw Andy Preece’s men sit as high as fourth before ending in 12th with their opponents in the playoffs.
A relatively forgettable and cagey first-half saw the teams trade goals. Dara Dada beat Matt Urwin down low to give the home side the lead on 29 minutes before Marco Rus levelled proceedings right on half-time with a clinical finish after a Jon Ustabasi run set the Coventry City loanee up inside the penalty area.
Mike Calveley celebrates his goal (James Harrison)
This was nothing compared to the second-half which saw the lead and league placings change dramatically. Mike Calveley’s 20-yard finish in the 53rd minute sent the 200+ visiting fans into raptures as the Magpies looked to stake their claim on a playoff spot.
The away sides’ third courtesy of a stunning Billy Whitehouse volley on 71 minutes looked to have confirmed the Magpies’ top seven placing.
The home side had other ideas, however, and set about the most miraculous of comebacks. Substitute Matthew Barnes-Homer gave the Tigers hope in the 74th minute with a close-range header and grabbed his second on 87 minutes with another header, putting both teams playoff ambitions on a knife edge.
And, unfortunately, the Tigers weren’t finished. Deep into stoppage time the ball was worked onto the flying foot of Tope Obadeyi, who sent the ball passed Matt Urwin, the home fans into delirium and the Magpies onto the canvas.
The cruelest of cruel endings to a rollercoaster of a season.
Gloucester Armstrong; Evans, O’Sullivan (c), Digie (Nugent, 62′), James, Dada (Barnes-Homer, 61′), Obadeyi, Spence, Berkeley-Agyepong (Holness, 90’+7), Morgan, Phillips. Subs not used: Marsh-Brown, Hall.
Chorley Urwin; Henley, Smith, Wilson, Leather (c), Whitehouse, Calveley, Sampson, Tomlinson (Nolan, 75′), Ustabaşı, Rus (Shenton, 84′). Subs not used: Isherwood, Johnson, Scarborough.
The game basically sums up our season. We had a result and place in the playoffs right there after responding brilliantly to being down. But we couldn’t see the game out when we had to – Andy Preece
Goals (assists) Dada 29′ (Phillips), Barnes-Homer 74′, Barnes-Homer 88′ (James) | Rus 45’+2 (Ustabaşı), Calveley 53′ (Whitehouse), Whitehouse 71′ (Tomlinson)
Cautions Barnes-Homer 82′, O’Sullivan 88′, Phillips 90’+1, Morgan 90’+5 | Tomlinson 42′, Sampson 87′, Nolan 90’+5
Dismissals None | None
Crowd 1,973 (217 away)
Officials Oliver Mackay | Cain Collins & Josh Brookland