Forty-year-old substitute Aaron Wilbraham said it was a “great feeling” to score the dramatic late equaliser that earned League One Rochdale a draw against Premier League Newcastle United in the FA Cup third round.
Wilbraham, who played in the top flight for Crystal Palace and Norwich City, pounced from six yards after a pass from 17-year-old substitute Luke Matheson to secure a replay at St James’ Park.
“I’m just happy to be involved,” said Wilbraham after cancelling out Miguel Almiron’s fierce first-half finish.
“The second half went so quickly – I could’ve played for another hour.”
It was Wilbraham’s third goal in three games. He scored twice against Fleetwood Town in the league on 26 December and dedicated that double to his late mother, who died earlier that month.
“Aaron’s mum passed away recently so he has been playing that memory the past couple of weeks,” said Rochdale boss Brian Barry-Murphy. “He feels he should have started this tie, but he made a big impact in the second half.”
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce had been hit by a lengthy injury list before the tie, but the visitors dominated for long spells and it was no surprise the team 49 places up the ladder took the lead – Almiron pouncing after Christian Atsu’s cutback in the 17th minute.
Rochdale keeper Robert Sanchez produced fine saves to prevent Joelinton and Yoshinori Muto increasing the lead, while Magpies keeper Martin Dubravka kept out former Manchester United youth player Oliver Rathbone.
Dale skipper Ian Henderson hit the post after Rathbone’s shot was parried by Dubravka, before the impressive Rathbone was again denied by a smart stop from the Newcastle keeper.
However, Rochdale earned a money-spinning replay thanks to Wilbraham’s tidy finish – and Rathbone even went close to a winner in the closing stages.