Bodmin Town 3, Ashington 2
THE strength in depth of Bodmin's squad was the telling factor as the club marched into the last 16 of the FA Vase for the first time in their history with victory over their Northern League opponents on Saturday.
On a heavy, cloying playing surface, particularly in the middle section, there were some very weary legs on both sides as the fourth round tie entered its last 30 minutes with the score level at 1-1.
The difference was that Bodmin were able to introduce influential fresh legs in the form of midfield hard man Shane Krac, scoring machine Adam Carter and the tricky Sam Matthews.
And they all played a part as Bodmin dominated the late stages of a pulsating clash, and came away as deserved winners, despite an injury time goal by the visitors which gave the scoreline a closer look.
Bodmin boss Darren Gilbert said: "It was a massive performance from everybody and I thought we were full value for the victory. There were plenty of nerves before the game but I had 16 players who believed we could win."
Glynn Hobbs had given Bodmin the perfect start with a superb right foot finish in the ninth minute and it took the Northumberland visitors until the hour mark to equalise with a Glen Taylor penalty after Olly Brokenshire had raised a boot too high against Andrew Johnson.
That could have been a morale-sapping moment for Bodmin. Instead they went back on the attack and restored their lead within four minutes, Steve Colwell smashing home at the second attempt after his first effort had been brilliantly saved by keeper Karl Dryden.
Chris Luxton, who had caused the initial panic in the Ashington penalty area after nicking the ball away from Dryden in the build-up to the goal, was injured in the process and had to be replaced.
Cue Adam Carter. He will take the plaudits because he got the crucial third goal and might have had a hat-trick, having crashed a volley against the bar and seeing a close range header brilliantly kept out by Dryden.
But Matthews, replacing the tired Slateford with 20 minutes to go, injected new life into Bodmin's attacking prowess with his pace leaving Ashington's defenders gasping for breath at times.
He was also the one who produced a defence-splitting pass in the 86th minute from inside his own half for Carter to run on to and make it 3-1.
And when midfield workhorse Colwell asked to come off, Bodmin had just the man to see them through the final 13 minutes. Enter Krac, who many had expected to be in the starting line-up.
Such has been the form of Colwell and Brokenshire in central midfield that Krac has been struggling to get in the side, but what a player to bring on at such an important time in a vital cup tie.
His experience and know-how was crucial in the late stages, even though Matt Grieve gave Ashington slight hope of an injury time comeback with a close range finish from a free kick.
But there was not enough time for the visitors to force extra time and even if that had happened, I still think Bodmin would have won.
They were the better side. Simple as that. They did the Carlsberg South West Peninsula League and Cornwall proud against a team from one step higher in the national non-league pyramid.
And they aren't finished yet. Bring on Gornal Athletic or Wisbech Town in ten days' time.