THE EXCITING prospect of an all-Hucknall cup final is to light up the climax to the season in the Notts Senior League (NSL).
For both HUCKNALL ROLLS LEISURE and their Hucknall-based ground-tenants, BOOTS ATHLETIC, clinched dramatic 3-2 extra-time victories in their NSL, Senior Cup semi-finals.
Rolls gained sweet revenge on FC Cavaliers, who beat them in a penalty shootout in last season’s final.
And then Boots, already crowned league champions, gainesd similar revenge over fellow high-fliers Wollaton, who defeated them in the 2008/09 final.
Now The Rollers and The Chemists will clash at Arnold Town’s Eagle Valley Stadium on Tuesday May 17 (kick-off 7.30 pm).
Both semis were thrillers, with top scorer Andy Start giving Rolls a seventh-minute lead when poking home from a corner.
On a bone-hard, bobbly pitch, Cavaliers responded strongly in the second period when Dan Smith swivelled well in the box to level and then Ricky Cross latched on to a half-clearance from a free-kick to smash home.
But Rolls decided to gamble by throwing on an extra striker in the reserves’ leading marksman, Joe Ashurst. And after they had hit both bar and post, it paid off just five minutes from the end when Ashurst stroked a shot into the bottom corner to force extra-time.
Even better was to come for Rolls when Kyle McDermott got free down the right and produced a terrific finish into the far corner from just inside the box midway through the first period.
It proved to be the winner as Cavaliers lost their discipline and were lucky not to receive a couple of red cards.
Inspired by their born-again skipper and man-of-the-match Jonathan ‘Toddy’ Wass, Rolls held on comfortably and wasted chances to seal the tie.
Their only scare came in the last minute when Ashurst switched off and let in Ryan Martt, who shot straight at ‘keeper Neil Waters.
ROLLS LINE-UP (3-4-1-2) — Waters/ Paterson D., Harrison R., Osbourne/ McDermott, Brookes, Wass, Dakers/ Greeley/ Allen H., Start A. Subs: Niblett C. (for Start 62), Ashurst (for Brookes 72), Tolley, Short, Marshall.
CONGOLESE striker Patrick Bakone was the hero of Boots’s narrow victory, bagging the winner in the first half of extra-time.
Bakone also set up the tie’s opening goal, laying on a pass for top scorer Kev Walker, who sprinted through for his 33rd goal of the season.
Although they had spent the weekend in Spain, celebrating their league title success, Boots showed no signs of tiredness.
But Wollaton have been going well in recent weeks and showed fine spirit to deservedly level in the closing minutes of the first half through Marek Vipond.
Alan Perks’s Chemists restored their lead in the second period as former Notts County trainee Tommy Kemp, back after a lengthy ankle-injury, fired home right-footed from the edge of the box.
But Wollaton were again allowed to equalise as former Cavaliers frontman Jamie Carlton took the tie into the extra half-hour.
BOOTS LINE-UP — Grayling/ Willows, Hart, Moore, Bowles, Holt, Hodges, Jones W., Kemp, Walker K., Bakone. Subs: Smith J. (for Hodges), Lucas (for Kemp), Hutchinson, Tasker, Edwards.