Tadcaster sneak into play-off spot on dramatic final day
Tadcaster Albion grabbed themselves an Evo-Stik Division One North play-off spot on the final day of the 2017/18 season.
A 2-0 home win over Mossley combined with defeats for Colwyn Bay and Colne saw Michael Morton’s men jump up from ninth place up to seventh in the table, setting up a play-off semi-final clash at Bamber Bridge on Tuesday evening.
Billy Whitehouse’s early low drive and Casey Stewart’s superb second-half strike proved enough to see off the Lilywhites at the i2i Stadium on Saturday as fans nervously refreshed their social media feeds all afternoon hoping for positive news elsewhere.
Bay went down 4-3 at the hands of Hyde United at Ewen Fields, while champions South Shields hung on for a 2-1 win over Colne, meaning that the Brewers took the final play-off spot on goal difference, securing their highest ever finish in the club’s history.
With Taddy knowing they had to beat lowly Mossley first and foremost before worrying about any other results, the home side made a bright start with a sense of nervousness and excitement evident in the ground.
The first attempt at goal came after just four minutes when Whitehouse drove narrowly wide from distance before Andy Milne went close to marking his return from ankle surgery with a goal.
Will Annan’s sumptuous corner kick was right on the money as the club captain made a dart to the near post but glanced just over the crossbar.
The visitors’ first attack of the afternoon came just seconds afterwards, as a cross from the right being turned inches wide by Mason Duffy.
Just as the Taddy fans were celebrating a goal for Hyde against Colwyn Bay, things got even better as Whitehouse broke the deadlock.
Midfield maestro Pete Davidson set up the goal brilliantly by pinching the ball off the toe of Andrew Keogh and knocking past Tom Dean, unlocking the space in behind the away defence.
He then teed-up Whitehouse who drove past visiting stopper Diba Musangu and into the back of the net.
Mossley looked dangerous at set-pieces and a long throw-in by Logan Jeffs dropped untouched in the six-yard box before Josh Barrett powered a header clear and to safety.
Albion continued to put together clever combinations in the final third as they pushed for a second goal. Billy Whitehouse’s divine outside of the foot through ball gave Davidson a sighting of goal, but the midfielder struck his half-volley over the mark.
Hull City-loanee Annan then surged inside in the penalty box but saw his low effort will saved by Musangu.
Moments after Harry Sheppeard’s cross was palmed away by the Mossley stopper, there was news of another goal, this time up at Mariners Park as Shields took the lead against Colne before a second followed soon after.
And Taddy had a great chance to get a second of their own on the stroke of half-time, Annan setting Stewart in behind before checking back and rolling square to Davidson who couldn’t generate the desired contact to trouble Musangu.
Mossley looked a more threatening outfit after the break with Jack Tuohy forcing goalkeeper Michael Ingham to get down well to hold.
Having said that, it was Tadcaster who scored the next goal and it was a crucial one, providing some breathing space.
Fresh from his brace at Ossett Town on Tuesday night, Stewart was at it again, chasing down gloveman Musangu and intercepting his pass, allowing the forward to roll into an empty net.
Albion almost got a third on 67 minutes when Annan’s corner dropped to Barrett but his low blast was blocked by Keogh and Milne’s half-hearted appeals for a penalty against Keenan Quansah were waved away.
The Lilywhites pushed valiantly for a way back into the contest in the last knockings but Liam Ellis couldn’t keep his cool after charging into the box, blasting over before Tuohy followed suit from 22 yards out.
Keogh was next to go close for the visitors as he smartly controlled a cross, however he was unable to bundle past the giant frame of Ingham.
As the clock ticked down, Morton’s men should have finished with a flurry as two clear goalscoring opportunities were passed up.
Firstly they broke from a Mossley corner with Barrett racing into the opposition’s half roared on by an almighty noise, but as the central defender went to pull the trigger his legs gave way.
Thirty seconds later and the Brewers were marauding in on goal once more, but this time substitute Josh Greening burst through and opted to square to Whitehouse who could only scramble tamely towards goal allowing Musangu to smother.
As the final whistle went in Tadcaster, fans eagerly refreshed their phones searching for positive results elsewhere.
The first game to finish was at Hyde, where despite a late rally from the Welsh side, the Tigers hung on for a 4-3 victory.
Colne were still throwing the kitchen sink up at Shields however, but they couldn’t force a late leveller and news of the full-time score there sparked scenes of jubilation in North Yorkshire.