WATLINGTON TOWN secured a place in the semi-finals of the Oxfordshire Intermediate Cup with victory over Hellenic League side Hook Norton Reserves, who were unbeaten since September.
The home side were without the influential Jonny Pitts but welcomed back Jon Little into the starting line-up.
The hosts started the brighter of the two sides and took the lead after 15 minutes when skipper Damian Rigozzi whipped in a free kick from the right-hand side, allowing Jon Little to tee up for Dan McNiffe to fire home from 12 yards.
After 30 minutes a Pete Ashman long ball was headed away by the visitors’ defence but only as far as striker Luke Yeulet who controlled the ball on his chest before volleying into the top left-hand corner.
Hook Norton’s only threat in the first half came from corners. Just before half-time a corner from the left found the away side’s centre forward but his header was cleared off the line by Rigozzi.
The second half started slower but Ashman and Clement were working hard in the centre of the park to ensure that the visitors could not get a foothold in the game. The hosts extended their lead on the hour mark.
Yeulet’s workrate was rewarded when he chased the ball from one side of the pitch to the other and evading several challenges along the way, he cut back inside and lobbed the stranded keeper from a tight angle 18 yards out.
Watlington appeared to be in full control of the match. The back four of Bridges, Strong, Taylor and Little had played well in nullifying any danger presented to them. However, the visitors went close to pulling a goal back on 65 minutes but for a last-ditch intervention from Rigozzi inside the penalty area.
The last 20 minutes saw the game take a large swing in momentum. With both sides introducing substitutions, the visitors went four up front. They were rewarded minutes later when a cross from the right was turned in, making it 3-1 with 15 minutes remaining.
Moments later Watlington conceded again. A clever through ball left goalkeeper James Conn stranded in his penalty area, as the Hook Norton number seven found the bottom corner with a well placed shot.
The final 10 minutes proved to be a nervy time for the hosts but victory was confirmed four minutes into added time when Allan Stevenson found the top corner from a free kick.