1874 NORTHWICH, picked by competition organisers as the best performers in the previous round, will again attract attention after beating opponents from a league above.
Cammell Laird are ranked 32 places, and two divisions, higher than Ian Street’s men.
That their guests bridged such a significant gap will worry them as much as it delights followers of the tournament newcomers.
The hosts will make a case that the outcome might have been different had it not been for goalkeeper Matthew Conkie’s interventions – more than one of them – in the opening stages.
During that period Northwich debutant Connor Tagoe was forced off with injury, replaced by Paul Bowyer.
While still adjusting, the away team took the lead.
Dean McGregor chased a long ball and, despite a defender being favourite to intercept, his was a decisive touch to send the ball past former Winsford custodian Michael Langley.
Laird, play-offs finalists in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League’s Division One North last season, continued to dominate possession without any reward as Conkie thwarted them twice more with stunning stops.
His high standards did not drop during a second period that followed much the same pattern.
Northwich struck again though with 10 minutes left, this time when substitute Michael McGinlay – on his first appearance since signing for the club – swept in Stuart Wellstead’s assist.
Wellstead might have added to his team’s lead in the game’s closing stages, but could not control his shot after substitute Matthew Ward had led a counter attack from the halfway line.
It mattered not, for 1874 Northwich had already made safe a quarter finals place.
Laird Langley (GK), Foley, Lundon, Hollett, Dysart, Gibiliru, Couch, Mooney, Atkinson, Foulkes, Carney (Foy 63) Subs not used Speare (GK), Parle, Evans
1874 Conkie (GK), Mitchell, Farnworth, Duckworth, Tagoe (Bowyer 15), Wellstead, Crane, Woolley, Stewart (Ward 84), McGregor (McGinlay 77), Brandon Sub not used Murphy Goals McGregor 19, McGinley 80
Referee Peter Gibbon