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On This Day: Wembley 1996 - Our Route To The Final

19 May 2020

Our road to Wembley back in 1996 started with a home first round tie against our Conference rivals and Cheshire neighbours, Runcorn.

On what proved to be a inclement day weather-wise, a solitary strike from Phil Power right on the stroke of half-time sent Sammy McIlroy's side through to the second round.

There, we would be handed another home tie - this time against Isthmian League side, Purfleet.

The Fleet came into the game buoyed by their FA Cup exploits - which had seen them dispose of fellow Vauxhall Conference side, Dagenham & Redbridge earlier in the season.

They were certainly not overawed by the occasion and there was to be some frantic last minute defending by the home side to preserve our slender 2 - 1 advantage.

Two first half goals just about proved to be enough that day - with Mark Bradshaw opening the scoring in the ninth minute and Steve Payne hitting a second four minutes after the interval.

We were then handed another potentially tricky home tie, as Suffolk-based Sudbury Town made the long journey up to the Moss Rose to contest our third round tie.

Marc Coates proved to be the match-winner that afternoon, as his 19th minute strike sent McIlroy's side into the last eight.

Our quarter-final encounter took us to Derbyshire, as we faced Gresley Rovers at the Moat Ground.

Defender Mark Bradshaw was once again on the scoresheet that day, as his ninth minute strike broke the deadlock and our place in the semi-finals was secured by Phil Power who doubled our advantage five minutes before half-time.

That set-up a two-legged battle with Chorley to determine who would reach the Twin Towers.

After falling behind in the first leg, Andy Thorpe's unfortunate own goal restored parity in the 51st minute and two late strikes from Marc Coates and Phil Power gave McIlroy's men a 3 - 1 victory going into the return leg.

You can read more about that game here.

Brian Ross' first half strike sent our pulses racing at Victory Park seven days later, as he gave The Magpies more than a glimmer of hope. Yet after some incredible defending from Cec Edey, midfielder Neil Sorvel would confirm our passage through to the final with a clinical 85th minute strike.

There is more about this game here.

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