After looking like sauntering their way into the second round of the FA Cup for just the second time in their history, Guiseley were forced to withstand a dramatic late comeback from League Two outfit Cambridge – which saw nervy home supporters beseech referee Trevor Kettle to blow the final whistle.
Four-nil down after an hour, the U’s reduced the arrears on three occasions, but the afternoon ultimately belonged to Guiseley following an extraordinary cup tie which had a bit of everything.
For the most part, it was a humiliating occasion for Cambridge – FA Cup quarter-finalists on two occasions in 1990 and 1991 – with Guiseley making a complete mockery of the fact that the U’s came into the game on a three-match winning sequence also featuring three clean sheets.
But the FA Cup periodically produces strange and wonderful stories, with one such episode arriving in front of 1,097 fans at Nethermoor as the Lions were afforded arguably their most magical moment ever in the famous old competition.
Chairman Gary Douglas was en route to Hong Kong and missed out on witnessing Guiseley’s big day – and his reaction upon learning of the final score when landing in the Far East will have been something to behold.
A marvellous half-volley from Will Hatfield on 25 minutes got the party started with his fourth goal of the season – and a cross-shot from Cliff Moyo provided the hosts with a 2-0 interval lead – ahead of Cambridge’s brittle defence capitulating at the start of the second half.
Kaine Felix and Kingsley James cashed in to make it 4-0 before a 65th-minute goal from Jabo Ibehre changed the narrative of the game – with further goals from George Maris and Ibehre threatening to spoil Guiseley’s celebrations.
The hosts were in dreamland at the interval following a first-half showcased by a wonderful opener from Hatfield, with the gloss arriving five minutes before the break from Moyo.
It proved an eventful half for Hatfield, who lobbed an early chance over and later received a booking before taking centre stage with his magnificent goal, which sailed into the top corner after Alex Purver’s free-kick was not cleared.
It was a picture-book moment and Lions followers were again on their feet in the 40th minute when the ball found Moyo in space on the right with his intended cross catching out former Republic of Ireland international keeper David Forde before nestling in the net.
It represented a tough moment for the U’s in a half which vastly-experienced striker Ibehre will have wanted to quickly erase.
Sent clear on 20 minutes after loose play from Purver, the frontman blazed over when well placed and was denied later by a combination of Lions keeper Joe Green and defender Andy Halls.
The U’s enjoyed plenty of possession and were afforded a number of promising set-piece situations, but could not cash in – although they went close to an opener courtesy of an audacious free-kick from ex-Nethermoor loanee Maris, which flew just wide.
Sent out early ahead of the start of the second half, a harsh afternoon assumed nightmare proportions for the U’s on the resumption. A cross found its way to Felix on the right and his clinical low drive, in a crowded area, flew past the bemused Forde to hand the Lions a three-goal buffer that they could not have envisaged in their wildest dreams before kick-off.
Cambridge’s torment continued unabated when Moyo’s cross was turned in by the unmarked James and only a fine reaction save from Forde to keep out Will Thornton’s header prevented a fifth.
Ibehre pulled one back after Joe Green spilled Jevani Brown’s cross and Maris’s precision curler reduced the arrears further late on.
Another twist saw Ibehre net in stoppage time – before time was called on a quite breathtaking cup tie.
Guiseley: Green; Moyo, Thornton, Halls, Heaton; Felix, Hatfield, Purver (Harvey 83), James, Walsh (Walters 54); Liburd (Odejayi 68). Substitutes unused: Morrison, Worsnop, Cummings, Clayton.
Cambridge United: Forde, Halliday; Taylor, Taft, Carroll; Brown, O’Neill (Amoo 45), Deegan (Lewis 71), Maris, Lambe (Azeez 62); Ibehre. Substitutes unused: Dunk, Mitov, Osadebe, John.
Referee: T Kettle (Rutland).