NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Holders St Neots Town survive penalty shoot-out while Godmanchester Rovers claim crucial league win.
- Credit: Archant
Holders St Neots Town booked their place in the Hunts Senior Cup final the hard way.
Matt Clements’ men had to come through a penalty shoot-out to prevail at lower-level Yaxley in a last-four clash on Tuesday.
Saints twice threw away the lead as an entertaining 90 minutes ended in a 2-2 deadlock, but they triumphed 3-2 from the spot with Tom Wood just about managing to tuck away the decisive penalty.
Saints roared out of the blocks and hit the front when James Hall headed the first goal of his latest spell with the club.
The frontman was the beneficiary of some slick skill and a fine delivery from wideman Jordan Norville-Williams.
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But any thoughts of this turning into the sort of 6-1 cakewalk Saints enjoyed against the same opponents in their last meeting in this competition three years ago were soon dispelled.
Yaxley levelled only two minutes later and in their first meaningful attack as Dalton Harris was left with a simple task of finishing a Dan Cotton cut-back.
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Saints soon regained the upper hand as Ryan Hughes fired against a post, Dylan Williams hit the bar and Norville-Williams saw an effort cleared off the line.
That all happened before Norville-Williams restored their lead with a stunning 25-yard strike in the 18th minute and only a terrific save from Yaxley goalkeeper James Blake denied the dangerous Devante Stanley a third goal.
Wood and Williams were then denied from point-blank range by Blake as two glorious chances to seal victory went begging early in a second half in which Saints became guilty of taking their feet off the gas.
And they eventually paid the price when Yaxley levelled with nine minutes to go as Yaxley substitute James Ward headed the hosts level.
The tie was settled from the spot where skipper Luke Knight, Williams and Wood found the net to send Saints through to a final clash against either Godmanchester Rovers or Eynesbury Rovers.
Those sides meet in the other semi next week (January 22).
Godmanchester were also in action on Tuesday when putting off-field issues to one side to collect a valuable Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division victory.
Ollie Drake’s depleted side – missing six regulars – triumphed 2-1 at Whitton on the day it came to light the club face an FA investigation over allegedly fielding an ineligible player in their run to the last 16 of the FA Vase.
Captain-for-the-night Austen Diaper hit the only goal of the first half before Whitton levelled from the penalty spot four minutes after the break.
But a fine 73rd minute free-kick from Ross Munro clinched the three points that took Rovers back to the Premier Division summit.