Morpeth Town travelled to Yorkshire on Saturday to take on high-flying Tadcaster Albion from the North East Counties League in the FA Vase.
Tadcaster are one of the favourites for this season’s competition and currently top of their league, unbeaten and with maximum points from their last 11 matches.
They also boast a midfield that includes former Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion midfielder Jonathan Greening.
Town went into the match unbeaten in three games having dispatched West Allotment Celtic in midweek to reach the semi-final of the Northumberland Senior Cup.
That game had taken its toll, however, as injuries hit Matty Grieve and Chris Jewels, which compounded with the suspension of forward Steven Anderson.
But the game proved to be another decided by a controversial decision, as was the case in last season’s last 16 exit when Jordan Fry was sent off in the first minute only later to be rescinded on the basis of video evidence.
On Saturday, however, it was a 93rd minute penalty awarded against defender Wayne Buchanan for what was deemed by Hull referee Andrew Dunne to be a foul.
Again subsequent evidence has shown that the penalty was unjustified and the club will be writing to the FA concerning the decision.
Putting aside the penalty decision, the game was a great advert for the non league game with end to end football.
The first few minutes belonged to Town with Sean Taylor going close to creating an opening goal when he broke down the left ghosting past the right back before crossing to Michael Chilton who saw his header cleared off the line.
As the match developed Town were quite content to let Tadcaster have possession at the back and then hit them on the break with former Spennymoor midfielder Keith Graydon calling the tune when sending probing balls into Chilton and Taylor.
Tadcaster always looked threatening on the attack, particularly when Greening was on the ball, and from one of his crosses Ormsby saw his header well saved by Town keeper Karl Dryden.
Town looked strong at the back at this stage with the back four of Hiftle, Hall, Buchanan and Novak looking solid and containing the lively Tadcaster forwards.
It became obvious it was going to take something special for Tadcaster to break them down, and so it happened when following a challenge on Buchanan by Josh Greening, Jonathan’s younger brother, his headed clearance only found Ormsby who sent a beautiful curling shot from 20 yards into the top right hand corner giving Dryden no chance.
Town rallied and with superb support of more than 100 travelling supporters they began to assert pressure on the home defence with Bell and Fry pushing forward on every occasion to support Taylor and Chilton.
The second half saw Town come out determinedly with Taylor causing the home defence all sorts of problems with his darting runs and on two occasions he was unlucky when he was clean through on goal only to be flagged up for tight offside decisions.
Town were having much more of the possession and the home side were rocked when following a slick move down the left involving Novak and Chilton saw Jordan Fry curl a great shot into the top corner to equalise.
Tadcaster were under the rack at this stage with Dryden a spectator, and it seemed a matter of time before Town would score with Taylor putting in a series of crosses from the right which home keeper Tom Morgan did well to handle, the best of which was a one handed push over the bar.
Tadcaster were rattled and midfielder Miller was booked for a two-footed challenge on Fry with the Town midfielder needing extensive treatment and the Tadcaster player lucky to only receive a yellow card.
The referee gave the same punishment to Town midfielder Graydon when he was adjudged not to have placed the ball in the correct position on the award of the free kick.
Then with three minutes of injury time being played the referee awarded the hotly disputed penalty with Ormsby put high to Dryden’s right, giving him no chance.
Graydon was then dismissed for an innocuous tackle as Tadcaster defended the last few moments to advance.
After the game Morpeth Town chairman Ken Beattie said: “The award of the penalty was the worst I have seen in 40 years of watching non league football. The Tadcaster player conned the referee.
“We are so disappointed at the way the outcome of this match was decided.
“The assistant referee later apologised for not making a stronger case for the penalty award.”
Town’s next game is on Saturday at home to North Shields in The Northern League, kick-off at Craik Park is 3pm.
Morpeth: Dryden, Hiftle, Hall, Buchanan, Novak, Taylor, Fry, Bell, Graydon, Chilton, Henderson.