NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Holders Eynesbury Rovers set up Hunts Senior Cup final repeat after 10-man semi success

Eynesbury Rovers manager Mark Ducket.

Eynesbury Rovers manager Mark Ducket. - Credit: Archant

Manager Mark Ducket hailed his Eynesbury Rovers side for setting up a Hunts Senior Cup final repeat.

Eynesbury Rovers' Craig Smith.

Eynesbury Rovers' Craig Smith. - Credit: Archant

The holders booked their place in the showpiece courtesy of a 2-0 success at table-topping United Counties League Premier Division rivals Yaxley on Tuesday night.

They triumphed thanks to a first-half opener from Craig Smith and a stoppage-time clincher from recent signing James Tricks – his first goal for the club.

And the victory was achieved despite being reduced to 10 men only three minutes into the second half when Rovers goalkeeper Aaron Butcher was dismissed against his former club.

Goalscorer turned goal-saver as Smith then donned the gloves for the remainder of the contest and played his part in a clean sheet.

Rovers’ reward is a return to Yaxley to take on neighbours St Neots Town – who play two levels higher in the Southern League Premier Division - in the May 2 final.

Ducket’s men beat their local rivals 1-0 in the 2016/17 final thanks to a goal from Tom Coles, who is no longer at the club.

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Ducket said: “To be through to a third Hunts Senior Cup final in three seasons is a great achievement.

“The lads were absolute class, playing almost a whole half with 10 men against the league leaders.

“It gives us something to look forward to at the end of a season that hasn’t really gone to plan for us.

“But this result showed what we’re capable of and it would have been different if we had a consistent squad to choose from all season.”

Smith broke the deadlock in the 17th minute when putting away a Jordan Brown cross.

Butcher then saw red just after half-time after clattering Yaxley man Ross Watson just outside the box, but the hosts were unable to find a way past Smith.

Brown was denied by a goal-line clearance when having an excellent chance to seal Eynesbury’s victory late on, but there was still time for Tricks to double the advantage when rifling home in the third additional minute.

Elsewhere, Godmanchester Rovers picked up a pleasing Thurlow Nunn League Premier Divison win.

Austen Diaper struck both goals in a 2-0 victory at Gorleston.

St Ives Town suffered a 4-1 home defeat at the hands of play-off chasing Slough in the Southern League Premier Division. Peter Clark put Saints ahead in that game.