On a dramatic final day, Tadcaster Albion snuck into the Evo-Stik North play-offs with victory over Mossley as well as Colwyn Bay and Colne both suffering defeats at already promoted sides.
Billy Whitehouse’s early low drive and Casey Stewart’s superb anticipation in the second half was enough to see off the Lilywhites as fans nervously refreshed their social media feeds all afternoon hoping for positive news elsewhere, to which they did. Hyde United saw off Colwyn Bay 4-3 at Ewen Fields and ten man champions South Shields hung on to a 2-1 win over Colne meaning that Tadcaster took the final play-off spot on goal difference. The result sees the Brewers climb to their highest ever finish in the club’s history with a trip to Bamber Bridge the reward this coming Tuesday night in the play-off semi-final.
Mossley made one change from the previous game against Hyde United with Danny McLaughlin replacing Mike Fish in the starting line up.
The first attempt at goal came after just four minutes as Billy Whitehouse drove narrowly wide from distance before the club captain went perilously close to marking his return with a goal. Will Annan’s sumptuous corner kick was right on the money as Andy Milne made a dart to the near post before glancing just over the crossbar. Mossley weren’t playing for anything per se but they only had to look at their last result of last season where they left the Brewers with all three points. The visitors’ first attack of the afternoon came seconds after Milne headed over as a cross from the right was turned inches wide by Mason Duffy.
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Just as the Taddy fans had time to celebrate a goal for Hyde against Colwyn Bay, they had extra reason to celebrate as Billy Whitehouse broke the deadlock. Midfield maestro Pete Davidson set up the goal brilliantly by pinching off the toe of Andrew Keogh and knocking past Tom Dean unlocking the space in behind before teeing up Billy Whitehouse who drove past Musangu and into the back of the net. Cue wild scenes as ‘Tad All Over’ rings around a jubilant Ings Lane.
Taddy’s starting eleven saw an average age of just 23 as they dominated the ball continuing to play their pretty on the eye possession based football as Will Annan poked a shot straight at Musangu. Mossley looked dangerous on set-pieces as a Rory Delap inspired long throw-in from Logan Jeffs dropped untouched in the six-yard box before Josh Barrett powered a header clear 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 Pete Davidson a sighting of goal before the scruffy-haired enforcer struck his half-volley over the mark.
The attacker on-loan from Hull City was next to go close for Taddy as Will Annan surged inside in the penalty box but saw his low effort will saved by Musangu. The Brewers were well in the ascendency with chances aplenty but a few groans could be heard from the home fans as the Seagulls equalised at Ewen Fields meaning that Tad would have to win by two goals. 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 the Champions took the lead against Lancastrians Colne before a second followed soon after. Taddy had a great chance to get a second of their own on the stroke of half-time as Annan set Casey Stewart in behind before checking back and rolling square to Pete Davidson who couldn’t generate the desired contact to trouble Musangu.
With Albion leading and both Hyde and South Shields 2-1 up, Michael Morton’s side occupied a play-off place as things stood at the half-way mark. Great credit has to go to Mossley as they looked a more threatening outfit after the break with Jack Tuohy forcing the league’s best 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 offering a slight slice of breathing space. Fresh from his brace at Ossett Town on Tuesday night, Casey Stewart was at it again as a false number nine after chasing down goalkeeper Musangu and intercepting the pass allowing the forward to roll into the empty net.
It was a brilliant atmosphere all afternoon at Tadcaster Albion as the home fans turned out in their numbers to cheer on their side and they almost got a third on 67 minutes when Will Annan’s corner dropped to Josh Barrett but his low blast was blocked by Keogh and Andy 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 as Liam Ellis couldn’t keep his cool after charging into the box blasting over before Tuohy followed suit from 22 yards out.
Andy Keogh was next to go close for the visitors as he smartly controlled a cross before being unable to bundle past the giant frame of Michael Ingham. As the clock quickly dwindled down with Taddy edging closer, they should have finished with a flurry as two clear goalscoring opportunities were passed up on. First Tad broke from a Mossley corner kick with Josh Barrett controlling the ball into the opposition’s half roared on by an almighty noise but as the central defender went to pull the trigger you could see his leggy legs give way. Thirty seconds later and the Brewers were marauding in on goal once more, this time substitute Josh Greening burst through and opted to square to Billy Whitehouse who could only scramble tamely towards goal allowing Musangu to smother.
As the whistle went in Tadcaster fans eagerly refreshed their phones searching for positive results elsewhere and first to finish was at Hyde, 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 the Champions however and with no tweet posted in the final eight minutes; fans, players and staff awaited official confirmation to which they did eventually get the news they wanted, cue ecstasy on the terraces as Tadcaster Albion were confirmed a play-off place.
Report by Jay Taylor