FORMER MOSSLEY manager John Flanagan was denied his moment of glory after AFC Wimbledon produced one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the Emirates FA Cup.
Flanagan’s non-league Curzon Ashton found themselves 3-0 ahead after 80 minutes in a home second-round tie against opponents 82 places higher in the footballing pyramid.
Curzon, in 16th place in National League North, looked to have booked a place in the third round for the first time in the club’s history after former Liverpool player Adam Morgan struck a brilliant hat trick.
The Dons ruined the fairytale scoring three goals in 2min 42sec from Tom Elliott, Dominic Poleon and substitute Tyrone Barnett to draw level.
Just when Curzon, whose side included former Mossley pair Connor Hampson and Chris Rowney, thought they had earned a replay at their League One opponents came another dramatic twist.
In the fourth and final minute of stoppage time, Elliott headed a dramatic winner as Wimbledon had snatched a 4-3 victory from the jaws of defeat.
And it ruined what would have been the greatest day in Curzon’s history and also denied Morgan from being their cup hero.
It was four years ago that Morgan started an Europa League game for Liverpool alongside Luiz Suarez and made three first-team starts in that competition, two against Hearts and one against Anzi.
His career had since faltered at places like Yeovil, St Johnstone and Accrington Stanley since leaving Liverpool in 2014 and, having been playing nowhere in the current campaign, only joined Curzon in October as his best mate Luke Clarke plays for them.
Morgan has fallen back in love with the game and his treble made it nine goals in seven games for the Nash – his goals were scored in boots that once belonged for former Liverpool team-mate John Flanagan.
It was a cruel end and manager Flanagan added the pain could increase on Monday when the draw for the third round is made should the Dons land a Manchester United, Liverpool or Arsenal.
He said: “I am gutted and feel for the lads as we were very close and gave a good account of ourselves, all I could have asked for.
“It was cruel, harsh not to get a draw. The lads gave everything, but fatigue set in and because of that we began defending deeper on our six-yard line and Wimbledon took advantage of that.
“When it was 3-0, you think you can win it, but it was not to be. It was entertaining and we contributed to a really good game of football, and I am proud of my players.”
Wimbledon manager Neal Ardley had sympathy for their non-league opponents saying: “What a cup tie and I should be celebrating, but part of me feels sorry for Curzon.
“They were absolutely fantastic, and I would have said that had we lost.”
Ardley added: “When we conceded the third goal it was a sucker punch and I felt it had killed us.
“These boys never give us and, when we got it back to 3-1, knew we would have more chances and we know we have firepower and great spirit among these lads.
“It didn’t surprise me when we scored three goals in two minutes as we did the same recently against Bury.”