It took extra time for Stockton to overcome a decent Bootle team who will be disappointed they didnt take advantage of their first half performance. Take nothing away from Stockton who turned the game on its head and from 60 minutes onwards with the introduction of Nathan Mulligan and a formation change they were the better side and created a bagful of chances hitting the woodwork on 3 occasions. Max Craggs was the hero as he scored 2 superb free kicks the second one a 25 yarder and the clincher in extra time that would have graced any stage. “the best free kick I’ve ever seen” a twitter comment from a Bootle fan says it all….
Stockton took the lead when Carter tucked away Hayes cross, Loughlin and then Milne from the penalty spot put Bootle deservedly 2-1up at half time it could have been more. The second half saw Stockton come more into the game. Craggs and Nathan Mulligan both hit the woodwork before Craggs adjusted his sights and curled a 20yd free kick over the wall to make it 2-2. Extra time came and Stockton were now well on top and just 4 minutes in Carter delivered a perfect cross for Owens to head home and just minutes later another free kick was despatched by Craggs 25 yards out over the wall with pace, power, dip and the ball flicking the underside of the bar on its way into the net making it seem even better if that was possible. Victory was assured and the Anchors saw out the game to reach the 3rd Round of the FA Vase for the very first time. Great resilience and refusal to lie down added to pure technical quality will take you a long way in any game, Man of the Match Max Craggs although a special mention for Nathan Mulligans influence on the game when he came on. FT Stockton Town 4 v 2 Bootle
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