Melton Town mined the magic of the FA Cup at their very first attempt as Jordan Lever’s stoppage-time winner gave them a dramatic upset win at Worksop Town.
Tom Manship’s side trailed inside three minutes against a Northern Premier League side who ply their trade two steps higher on the non-league ladder.
But as nerves dissipated, Town grew into the game and were finally rewarded for a dominant second half performance when last-gasp sub Kadeem Price tapped in a 90th-minute equaliser.
And barely had Melton supporters begun making plans for a home replay when Lever placed a composed finish through a crowded goalmouth in the fifth-minute of injury time to seal the biggest shock of the extra preliminary round.
Their reward for inflicting a first defeat on Worksop since December 22 is a preliminary round tie against another set of step four opponents, Cleethorpes Town, on Saturday, August 24.
The visitors were relishing the club’s first taste of the world’s most prized domestic club competition, but there was always a danger the occasion may affect performance.
And that may have been true early on as Worksop, kicking with a galeforce wind behind them in the first half, made a lightning start.
A good raking crossfield ball put the dangerous Lynton Karkach away down the right and his superb cross found Craig Mitchell at the far post whose looping header was pushed onto the bar by Town keeper Rob Peet and into the net.
Worksop, who went into the game on a remarkable run of 22 straight wins, were rampant as Melton were pinned in their own half.
Gascoigne sent an effort just wide and Peet had to leap to his right to turn Woolley’s curling free-kick wide as the hosts threatened to kill off the game in the first 15 minutes.
Peet then had to gather a Gascoigne shot at the second attempt, but gradually Melton settled and finally forced home keeper David Reay into action, saving comfortably from Lever just after the half-hour.
Almost immediately, Cameron Gilchrist then made a vital interception in his own box to deny Worksop a simple chance to add a counter-attack second.
Melton continued their improvement up to half-time, with Benjamin impressing down the left, Reeve a real livewire threat up front, despite being double man-marked, and Lever and Parsons having a growing influence.
A foothold turned into control after the break as the hosts grew increasingly ragged and began to hang on to their slender one-goal lead, a testament to the display lower league Melton were putting in.
Within three minutes of the restart, Reeve produced a sublime touch to control Peet’s high swirling clearance kick, before outmuscling his marker and forcing a decent close-range save from Reay.
It was Melton’s turn to pen the home side in their half as the visitors bossed midfield.
But aside from a couple of Lever breaks down the right, one created by a brilliant Sam Beever through ball, and a half-chance from Parsons forcing a second save from Reay, the home defence remained largely intact.
Melton skipper Peet urged his side to keep believing as the tie entered its final 10 minutes and Benjamin responded almost straightaway, sending a shot just past the left post.
Benjamin chipped a lovely cross to the back post only to find no-one at home, and Munton then had a shot blocked as the pressure intensified.
Manship, who brought his playing stint to an end midway through the half, then went for broke, taking off defender Gilchrist for another striker, Kadeem Price, with just two minutes left.
The forward has a talent for late goals from the bench, but none were more dramatic than this one.
With the clock showing the final minute, Josh Hill floated a free-kick into a loaded Worksop box.
The set-piece was turned goalward, but looked a comfortable save low down for Reay until the keeper somehow allowed the ball to squirm under his body, and Price nipped in to finish into an open goal.
Having been happy to hang on and waste time for spells of the second half, Worksop were stung into finding a winner, a decision they would ultimately pay for.
Withstanding Worksop’s forays, Town took play up to the other end for one final fling of their own.
Zac Munton was the architect, and as Steve Wankiewicz looked to shepherd the ball out for a goalkick, the summer signing nipped in to steal possession, keep it in play and find Ashley Day who laid a pass back across the box for Lever.
The winger took a touch before placing a shot through a sea of legs into the bottom-right corner to give Melton an epic win and cap an historic day,
Town: R. Peet, S. Beaver, N. Benjamin, A. Day, C. Gilchrist (K. Price 88), L. Fray, Z. Munton, T. Manship (J. Hill 68), M. Reeve, R. Parsons (C. Hibbitt 92), J. Lever.