The Empire strike back in cup derby upset

EMPEROR JOE -- striker Joe Ashurst whose goal helped The Empire pull off a cup shock against Green Dragon.
EMPEROR JOE -- striker Joe Ashurst whose goal helped The Empire pull off a cup shock against Green Dragon.

Two Hucknall derbies in the Second Round (last 32) of the NOTTS SUNDAY MORNING LEAGUE’S Premier Section Cup threw up a shock and a close shave.

The shock was provided by Second Division THE EMPIRE, who knocked out Premier Division GREEN DRAGON in a 3-2 victory.

While the close shave came in another Division Two v Premier Division clash as AFC H2O had STATION HOTEL (HUCKNALL) rattled before succumbing 4-3.

Although Dragon are struggling at the foot of the top flight without a point, they were still expected to dispose of Empire, who have won only two of their first six league games themselves. And all seemed to be going to plan when skipper Matt Sisson tapped them in front.

But Empire were already playing some attractive football and after being foiled by a point-blank save by Jamie Taylor, they turned the tie around to lead 2-1 by the interval. First Joe Ashurst finished a well-worked goal and then Jake Wright hit a screamer from 20 yards that no ‘keeper could have saved.

Empire struck again early in the second half when defensive errors enabled Alec Morton to latch on to a loose ball.

And although Dragon hit back with Kane Matthews cutting the deficit after Danny Taylor’s shot had been saved, they couldn’t force extra-time.

They piled on the pressure and had strong penalty claims rejected, but must now hope they can improve in the quarter-finals of the Notts FA Sunday Senior County Cup against Kirkby Town this weekend.

DRAGON LINE-UP (3-1-4-1) -- Taylor J./ Gorewoda, Neale, Smith/ Sisson/ Lewis, Clarke, Bernard, Matthews K., Humphreys/ Taylor D. Sub: Lester.

Meanwhile H2O were within a whisker of emulating Empire as goals from Martin Richardson, Ashley Dobb and Paul Prewett gave Station the heebie-jeebies.

Station, last season’s unbeaten First Division champions, just survived thanks to strikes by Elliott Christie (2), Mick Temple and Christian Mantezola.

IN other Premier Section Cup ties, reigning Premier Division champions T8’S cruised into the last 16 -- but BARFLYS H2O crashed out.

Reece Jackson’s men cantered to a comfortable 4-0 win over Stratford Haven, who are rooted to the bottom of the division below them.

They squandered many chances in the opening half, while goalkeeper Jake Pearson had to make some decent saves at the other end.

But Damian Mann gave them the lead when latching on to a looped ball from Aaron Ryan, cutting inside and drilling inside the ‘keeper’s near post.

T8’s then dominated the second half, doubling their lead on 55 when Jackson himself, on as a substitute, played an exquisite, angled reverse-ball for the unmarked Chay Bettridge to smash home.

Bettridge netted his second with a sweet left-footer that found the top corner and Jackson rounded things off with the last kick of the tie, turning his marker to drive home low from 18 yards.

T8’S LINE-UP -- Pearson J./ Hayes D., Hunt, Peberday, Brooks, Ryan, Bettridge, Mann, Davies N., Gamble, Start A. Sub: Jackson R.

Barflys faced a more difficult ask against fellow Premier Division side Clumber -- and came up well short in a 6-0 defeat.

The promise of the previous week, when they held league leaders Old Colonial, evaporated as the visitors eased home with a hat-trick from Jarrod Westcarr, a double from Aswan Allen and a single from Steve Campbell.

THE seventh team from the Dispatch district involved in Premier Section Cup action, ATHLETICO T8’S, slid to a disappointing 3-2 defeat at County NALGO.

Aidan England and Jamie Brown were on target for Athletico but NALGO, who sit below them in the Second Division table, edged home on the back of strikes by Glenn McLean, Pat Lally and Simon Warburton.