As Nantwich Town take another step forward in their remarkable FA Trophy run, striker Liam Shotton took a look back to a low point in his career for inspiration.
Shotton, the Dabbers matchwinner in their 2-1 Quarter Final win over Vanarama National League club Dover Athletic, was part of a Leek Town side that seemed destined for a historic appearance in the FA Cup First Round last season.
However the Evo-Stik NPL First Division North side surrendered a two goal half time lead to Blyth Spartans, eventually losing a monumental seven goal battle, even contriving to miss an injury late into injury time that would have taken the tie to a replay.
The Northumberland outfit went on to have a run to the Third Round of the competition, including wins over Altrincham and Hartlepool United, before succumbing to SkyBet Championship side Birmingham City by the odd goal in five.
Shotton (pictured right) admitted that the game lingered in his memory, as he watched on enviously at the time.
But he is taking the positives from such a low and making sure that he enjoys the success that his current employers are experiencing.
“I remember that game against Blyth Spartans from my time with Leek Town. We were
two up at half time, then they got it back and went 4-2 ahead.
We thought we were gone and then we scored against but missed a penalty in injury time.
They went on to have a great FA Cup, they were on TV and I remember thinking that should have been us getting the publicity and things like that.
It hurt a lot if I am honest.
But now I am relishing what is happening at Nantwich Town, it means I don’t take it for granted.
It is our time to shine and I am glad to be part of it”
The Dabbers were heavy underdogs going into their quarter final tie against National League highfliers Dover.
After taking the lead ten minutes into the second half through a goal from Elliot Osbourne, they were pegged back by a Richard Orlu header.
Shotton was introduced into the game with ten minutes remaining and in the third minute of injury time he headed the Dabbers into the last four of the competition, to set off wild celebrations on and off the pitch.
And he revealed that he had already turned his thoughts to a Tuesday night trip to the South Coast for a replay.
“I can’t think of anything much better than scoring a late winner like that.
It was even better because I had been on a bit of a drought so to come on in the last ten minutes and score, to put us into the semi finals, was amazing.
In my head we were already thinking about heading down there for a Tuesday night replay and everything that comes with that”
The Dabbers prize for their historic win is a two-legged semi final tie against another National League side, although they must wait to find out their opponents.
Gateshead and FC Halifax Town meet on Wednesday night on Tyneside, after producing a goalless tie on Saturday.
Shotton believes that his side face a tough tie, no matter who they face, but does believe that they can take heart from proving doubters wrong throughout their FA Trophy run.
“There was never going to be an easy draw, no matter who we got because every team left in the competition are strong in their own way.
Whether we face Gateshead or Halifax Town we face a side who will make it hard for us.
But we have proven this season that, on our day, we can beat anyone, even when nobody expected us to win games.
I would fancy our squad against anyone and hopefully we can prove that over the two legs of the semi final.
We have belief, we have confidence and we have a great history at the club. We hope to carry that on”
Interview: Mark Carruthers
Images: Simon J Newbury Photography