Hebburn Town winger James Fairley has insisted that the goal he scored to put his side 3-0 up in Saturday’s FA Vase tie against City of Liverpool was one of the “most important” goals of his career.
The 2017/18 Northern League winner, with Marske United, intercepted the ball just inside City of Liverpool’s half, after a poor clearance from keeper Ben Ascroft and with the help of the wind, beat the retreating keeper from around 50-yards out in the top-right corner.
The Hornets pulled off the shock of the round in the FA Vase, thrashing the Merseyside club, who remain unbeaten in the North West Counties League, 4-0 in front of a club record crowd of 1,302.
“A year this week today, I scored a very similar goal (for Marske United). I thought it was a one-off last year, but to do it again is unbelievable,” he said.
“I saw it heading over the keeper and into the back of the net and by then I was away. The next thing I know, I’m on my knees and everyone is jumping on me!
“It was a bit of a blur as adrenalin kicked in, and I didn’t know where I was going. To be fair I could’ve scored and run to Washington now to be honest, the buzz was phenomenal.”
Manager Scott Oliver said about his man: “I said to James Fairley before the game and to the lads to give him the ball and then he’s got to perform.
“Wingers love to get the ball, but they winge if they’re not getting it. The club got a sight of how good James Fairley is - I think wingers are a lost art in football.
“Wingers are going past people, it’s all about forwards these days. I get bored of modern day football and I watched James Fairley and some of his stuff was permanent.
“You don’t see that every day in the league, let alone at a professional level – he went past seven players. It was frightening, absolutely frightening.”
A Graeme Armstrong strike off the crossbar following two prior blocked shots put the hosts in front in the 21st minute, before captain Louis Storey buried the ball in the bottom-right corner just three minutes later to set the tone of the game after an even start.
Fairley’s strike came just four minutes into the second half, and it was the second time in after the break he’d tried his luck from such long range.
Veteran striker Paul Chow, who has scored in each of the three FA Vase finals he’s won, later got the winner in added time to send the home support wild.
Fairley did try to take all the attention off himself saying: “I’m on the same level and par with any of the lads in the dressing room, without the other lads I couldn’t do it on my own. I may get singled out but on another day, you could single any of the lads out because they’re top quality lads.
“The lads are flying, we’re all flying as a team, confidence is flying. What’s happening around the club, not just in the dressing room – the confidence around the club is phenomenal.”
The Hornets will find out their next opponents in the Vase at lunchtime.