St Ives Town are a big step closer to lifting the Southern League Challenge Cup for the first time - after two moments of quality earned a place in the final last night.

Leading scorer Josh Dawkin hit a high-class brace in the first half to earn Saints a 2-0 victory against lower-level Aylesbury United in a last-four showdown at ProEdge Westwood Road.

Dawkin opened the scoring midway through the opening period with a fine finish from the edge of the box following excellent approach play from recent recruit Peter Clark.

And the same two players combined again to double the advantage just before half-time as Dawkin exchanged passes with Clark before rifling in from 25 yards.

Clark had been denied by two smart saves before Saints hit the front and goalkeeper Tim Trebes was required to pull off a fine stop when they boasted a one-goal lead.

Saints had to see out the final 20 minutes with only 10 men. Full-back Jack Bradshaw picked up a knee injury after Marheineke had already made his three permitted substitutions.

"I'm really happy," said Marheineke. "It's great to have something to look forward to rather than the season just fading away with us almost guaranteed safety in the Premier Division.

"It wasn't a vintage performance by any means, but a couple of pieces of class from Josh won us the game.

"It was a fairly even overall, but fortunately for us Aylesbury lacked a bit of quality around the final third themselves.

"It's been a good season to date and now we have the chance to make it a memorable one by winning a trophy."

Saints will face fellow Premier Division side Hayes & Yeading in the showpiece, but Marheineke revealed the exact format is yet to be confirmed.

The final of this competition is usually staged over two legs, but it could be held as a one-off match this season.

Either way, Marheineke is bracing himself for a tough challenge even though Hayes & Yeading are in the relegation zone.

He added: "Hayes & Yeading are a good side who have picked up some decent results lately.

"We lost 1-0 at their place and drew 1-1 at home - and those results just prove what we already know about there being no easy games at this level.

"They have signed good players from this division and the league above, so we're bracing ourselves for a tough test.

"There's talk of the final being a one-off game this season, but it doesn't really bother me whether that's the case or it's played over two legs.

"We're just happy to be involved in it - and we'll now do all we can to win it."