IN the most important match in the history of Barnoldswick Town, and with a place in the last 32 of the FA Vase beckoning, Town turned in a poor display.
The groundstaff had worked tirelessly from Wednesday right up to almost kick-off time to get the match on.
It all started off fairly well for Town, as they pressed forward, with Ashley Alderson shooting over from a Jack Overson cross after 15 minutes.
Ashley Flynn then brought a save out of Alex Woodcock in the Town goal two minutes later.
Town continued to press for the opening goal, and Mark Threlfall did well to get a cross in which was cleared out wide, and Harry Thompson picked the ball up and crossed to find Stewart Airdrie, who shot into the side netting from six yards out.
With Town pressing hard, they left themselves stretched at the back and Woodcock had to race out of his goal to clear as two Emley forwards closed in.
After 28 minutes Airdrie cleverly back-heeled the ball forward over Liam Schofield, and would have had a run on goal but was brought down, but the resulting free kick was fired tamely wide.
Town did manage to get the ball in the net a minute later, but Lewis Jordan was ruled off-side.
Then disaster for Town on the half hour mark, as what looked like an easy shot for Woodcock to save was deflected at the last minute to send it past the helpless keeper.
Town nearly equalised in the last minute of the half when Airdrie volleyed a shot just over the angle of the post and bar.
There was a terrific start to the second half, as Emley kicked off and Town won the ball. Threlfall picked it up halfway inside the Emley half, beaten three defenders before shooting low inside Luke Herriott’s right hand post.
Five minutes later Flynn ran at the Town defence before laying the ball off to Anthony Haigh, but his shot was wide.
Straight down to the other end, an Ashley Alderson cross was dropped by Herriott, who just managed to get hold of it with Neil Chapman closing in.
Overson, with Town pressing forward, sent over a tantalising cross along the ground which Threlfall was just unable to turn in at the far post.
Airdrie then crossed from the left hand side of the Emley area, Billy Priestley headed down, but Herriott was equal to it, tipping it round the far post.
Town then took Chapman off, bringing on Liam Garbutt.
A minute later Town fell behind, as a poor clearance out from Woodcock went straight to Flynn, who easily scored.
Thompson did well to get in behind the Emley defence, but he pulled the ball back too far behind the Town attackers and it was cleared.
Emley, with Town pushing forward, broke away twice in as many minutes and Haigh brought two brilliant saves out of Woodcock, the second for a corner.
From the corner, Emley skipper Paul Sykes rose unchallenged to head just the wrong side of the
post. Then another poor Town clearance with 10 minutes left saw Emley substitute Doran Jordan with the easy task of side-footing past Woodcock.
Town made a double substitution with five minutes left, taking Alderson and Overson off and bringing on Aaron Hollindrake and Ben Gorman into the fray.
With a minute left Hollindrake should have reduced the arrears but somehow side-footed over the bar from three yards out with no one challenging him.
In the end it was a very disappointing result, but you have to take your hat off to Emley and say that overall they deserved to go through.
Barnoldswick Town are back in league action tomorrow at home to Runcorn Town, kick-off 3 p.m.
Final Score: Barnoldswick Town 1, AFC Emley 3
• NELSON’S game at Rochdale Town on Saturday was postponed. They are scheduled to host Abbey Hey tomorrow (kick-off 3 p.m.).