As recently as last season, Northwich Victoria were in administration. Now they have a mouth-watering FA Cup third-round visit to Sunderland - their first-ever tie against a top-flight club - to look forward too.
A 2-1 success did not reflect their huge dominance of opponents from a division higher up the non-League set-up but it was a case of better late than never for Geordie Paul Brayson in last night's second-round replay. Undaunted by a first-half penalty miss, the striker hit his 25th goal of the season and his 10th in this term's Cup to send the Victoria Stadium crazy.
Brayson, a former Newcastle United reserve who still lives in the North-east, had already made history by being named man of the match in two rounds and so earning himself a guest ticket to next spring's final.
That thrill can hardly eclipse his replay winner last night, though, in a tie Northwich seized hold of from the start. Another Tynesider, midfielder Stuart Elliott, broke through in the 13th minute with a stunning swerving 30-yarder.
Brayson should have doubled the lead in the 25th minute when his strike partner, Jonny Allan, was bundled over by Karim El Salahi in the area. But the man who boasts two Cup hat-tricks already this term saw his spot-kick well saved by Shawn Jalal. The miss looked more costly when Woking levelled in first-half injury time when Steve Ferguson side-footed home a cross from Stephen Evans. But in the 60th minute, Brayson cut inside and rifled a shot inside the near post from 20 yards.
"This is what the FA Cup is all about,'' said the Northwich manager, Steve Burr. "We created such a lot of chances and played some great stuff. Paul is hungry for goals and to get 25 before Christmas is terrific.''
The Sunderland manager Mick McCarthy was reported not to be among the crowd. He may not be relishing third-round weekend as much as Northwich.
Northwich Victoria (4-4-2): Rogers; McCarthy, Handyside (Payne, 44), Charnock, Chapman; Mayman, Elliott, Carr, Roca; Allan, Brayson. Substitutes not used: Connett (gk), Byrne, Devlin, Battersby.
Woking (4-4-2): Jalal; Jackson, El Salahi, Nethercott, Watson; Ferguson (Rawle, 73), Smith (Selley, 40), Murray, Cockerill (Evans, 35); Richards, McAllister. Substitutes not used: Davies (gk), Aggrey.
Referee: S Dorr (Worcestershire).Reuse content