A GAME that Northwich Victoria defied expectation to win, but not in the way they have previously.

Ryan Winder, on his debut, and Darrhyl Mason scored goals in extra-time to send Vics through to the FA Vase semi-finals.

They were the consequence of digging deep, and hanging on in parts, despite playing more than an hour with an extra man after Sholing’s Lee Wort was sent off before the break.

The home team's initial response to that was emphatic.

Trailing 1-0, coincidentally after Wort had put the visitors in front, they drew level when captain Brad Cooke glanced the deftest of headers past goalkeeper Ryan Gosney from Winder’s perfect cross.

It wasn’t the catalyst it might have been, and instead that came later.

Vics had brushed aside Newcastle Benfield before humbling Histon with a swagger to reach this stage.

However they played as if burdened by the weight of those two wins, both of them away from home against fancied hosts, during the early exchanges.

Meanwhile Sholing included six men in their starting line-up that played at Wembley when they won the competition five years ago.

There was a ‘been there and done it’ aura surrounding them – not cocky, but certainly assured – that contrasted sharply with names on Vics’ team-sheet that hadn’t.

That set the tone, and the Wessex League leaders took the lead on 27 minutes when Wort was alert to Gosney’s long punt forward.

The flight of the ball appeared to catch out defenders Kieron Kenny and Andy Fitzgerald, and the striker finished clinically.

Initially at least Wort had been more prominent than fellow forward Dan Mason, one short of 50 goals for the campaign, with his clever movement off the ball and dribbling ability while on it.

That’s why his dismissal, for a reckless tackle on Cooke after he lunged to win back the ball after losing control, felt significant.

Vics' skipper scored an equaliser straightaway too.

And it felt as if the momentum from drawing level had stayed with Vics when Rob Doran combined neatly with Mason shortly after the interval before the latter sliced horribly off-target.

But if it had, then it soon dissipated.

Sholing weren’t relentless, but they were more menacing.

Mason teed up Alex Sawyer, but his poked effort was straight at Northwich custodian Danny Taberner.

The Boatmen’s best chance followed on 65 minutes when Cooke’s under-hit back-pass was intercepted by Sawyer.

Taberner raced from his line to smother the attacker's shot brilliantly before Jack Hoole scuffed the loose ball tamely.

Sawyer then flashed an effort past the near upright from Hoole’s cross before Winder drilled a rising attempt straight at Gosney following a rare Vics raid in opposition territory.

They were forced to reshuffle too when Kenny succumbed to an injury and newcomer Lewis Brownhill, part of a Thatcham Town side that eliminated 1874 Northwich at the semi-finals stage last season, filled in as an emergency central defender.

Hoole dragged wide from another Mason lay-off, and extra-time followed.

Still Sholing were more visible than Vics in attack, and Jack Fleming smuggled Dan Miller’s header off the line after TJ Cuthbertson’s corner reached his teammate at the far post.

Taberner intervened twice more before the turnaround; first, he stretched to divert Hoole’s drive from distance before then reacting smartly to stop Mason’s shot on the turn.

To his credit, Vics boss Steve Wilkes continued to shuffle his pack in an attempt to spark his side into life.

One of his choices, to select Winder from the start with Matty Clarke ruled out by suspension, proved to be inspired.

The midfielder joined forces with Fleming to halt substitute Bradley Targett’s forward progress when Sholing threatened to counter.

Winder then carried the ball into the penalty area and his shot was deflected by a defender past Gosney.

He was lucky, but had arguably earned it.

Sholing, unbeaten by anybody in the previous 31 matches, had a reprieve when Mason’s dipping strike clattered the inside of a post.

It wasn’t for long though, and the same player slammed in from close-range after substitute Jordan Darr had wriggled away from a defender before squaring the ball to him.

Dave Diaper, Sholing’s manager, had recalled beforehand a last 16 victory in 2014 against Larkhall that saw his side sneak through after being second-best.

He knows now how their foes felt that day.

“We definitely weren’t the best team in the FA Vase when we won it,” he said.

“But we had self-belief, and Lady Luck has a lot to do with it too.”

Vics have the former, and plenty of it.

Vics | 4-3-3 | Taberner (GK), Camozzi, Kenny (Lewis Brownhill 71), Fitzgerald, Fleming, Whyte (Craig 109), Cooke, Winder, Joel Brownhill (Darr 101), Doran (Matthews 79), Mason Sub not used Scott (GK) Goals Cooke 45 (+1), Winder 112, Mason 116

Sholing | 4-4-2 | Gosney (GK), Cuthbertson, Castle, Miller, McLean, Sawyer (Targett 94), Roundell, Byron Mason, Hoole, Wort, Dan Mason Subs not used Royl, Smith, Norton, O’Donnell (GK) Goal Wort 27 Sent off Wort (foul)

Referee Tom Reeves

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