Liam Dolman admitted he was more relieved than anything else after his dramatic stoppage-time goal kept AFC Rushden & Diamonds’ FA Cup dream alive.
Diamonds looked to be heading out of the competition as they trailed 2-1 at Evo-Stik Northern League Premier Division side Barwell with just seconds remaining.
Central defender Dolman, who had earlier headed home the first equaliser, had been pushed into attack as Diamonds chased another goal and, after a mass scramble in the penalty area, the ball fell for him and he fired home to spark wild scenes of celebrations from the 500-plus army of travelling fans.
Diamonds and Barwell will now be in the hat for tonight’s (Monday) first-round draw alongside the Sky Bet League One and Two clubs before they battle it out in the replay at the Dog & Duck tomorrow night.
And Dolman revealed the desire of him and his team-mates to battle away until the very end is something that has been driven into them by boss Andy Peaks and his staff.
Dolman said: “It was a bit of a scramble in there but it fell to the right man at the right time!
“The management have got it installed in us that until the final whistle goes, we aren’t beaten and we have taken that on board and it helped us on this occasion.
“We went there with the idea of not getting beaten and if it meant a replay then fine.
“We are perhaps lucky we have got one but we get another crack at it on Tuesday and we will have to prepare well and start well and hopefully we can get the win.
“We haven’t done anything yet. We have the replay on Tuesday and we will need to play better than we did.
“We were sloppy at the start of both halves and when you play against teams from a higher level you have to match their work-rate first and foremost.
“We can’t afford to start like that on Tuesday otherwise they will turn us over.”
Dolman also paid tribute to the travelling fans who backed their team throughout and he hopes they will be out in force tomorrow evening as they bid to finish the job.
He added: “I know it’s a cliche but they were the 12th man for us, they didn’t stop all day. They dragged us through.
“They travelled in their numbers and that was another reason to keep going into the 95th minute.
“Hopefully we have done them proud by getting the replay and I am sure they will turn out again and help us try to go one better.”
Barwell or Diamonds will be ball number 54 in tonight’s draw, which is being shown live on BBC Two from 7pm.