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Pinchbeck United earn a replay in their FA Cup tie with Melton Town

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Pinchbeck United manager Lewis Thorogood felt his young side had taken another big step forward in their development after earning an FA Cup replay with Melton Town.

The two sides will meet again at the Sir Halley Stewart ground on Wednesday night (7.45pm) after sharing the spoils in a 2-2 draw in the extra preliminary round tie.

Pinchbeck had to battle back against their United Counties League Premier Division North rivals to keep their hopes alive of a tie against Shepshed Dynamo or Winterton Rangers in the next round after they shared the spoils on Saturday in a goalless draw.

Manager Lewis Thorogood (58483459)
Manager Lewis Thorogood (58483459)

Thorogood said: "We've got lads with blisters, injuries, swellings and strains. It looked like a battlefield by the end of the game.

"But, even at 2-1 down, we had the character to get the equaliser and were still pressing forward.

"The Pinchbeck of old would have gone 2-1 down away from home and probably lost by four goals.

"We haven't overhauled the side. We learned the hard way last season with how to cope with step five football.

"It's going to pay dividends for all of us moving forward because we showed real character and heart on Saturday. It was so pleasing that we were prepared to play football while grafting and working hard.

"There are many doubters out there who don't want to see us do well, but we have got a great little group and there is a real togetherness this year.

"There's no egos or outspoken individuals. Everybody wants to work for each other and drag each other through.

"It's a real pleasure to be involved in that sort of environment because it makes it fun for all of us."

The Knights also had to overcome a defensive injury crisis that saw full-backs Josh Simpson and Ben Robson moved to emergency centre-halves with midfielders Nathan Stevens and Zane Millar drafted into defensive roles.

Thorogood explained: "We had seven players unavailable on Saturday and four of those - Neal Spafford, Dan Worthington, Kieran Wiles and Owen Sheriff - were centre-halves.

"Our back four had an average age of just over 18 years and we set ourselves up to try and frustrate but also play and we exceeded my expectations.

"Melton are a very good side. They are a strong, physical and quick possession-based side but we contained them well."

A long clearance from goalkeeper Alex Smith had set Elliot Foster free to race clear and score the opening goal.

However, Melton were back on level terms before the break after forcing a succession of corners.

The hosts then took the lead in the second period from another setpiece before the Knights equalised for a second time when Ben Robson rose highest to head home a Joe Melson corner.

The draw followed up last Wednesday's win over Wisbech Town and Thorogood is hoping his side can maintain their momentum in the midweek replay.

He added: "We will have to patch everyone up but it's an exciting time for us.

"The club has never had a replay before in an FA Cup fixture. It might be a meaningless thing to an extent but it's another step forward.

"It's an opportunity to get people to come out and watch an FA Cup replay.

"It's a little bit of a free hit for us but we've got momentum and confidence and Saturday will have taken it out of both teams.

"It will be about who can recover the best and who's prepared to put it on the line to get into the next round."

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