WATLINGTON TOWN defeated North Berks Football League leaders Dorchester 2-1 on Saturday to reach the final of the Oxfordshire Intermediate Cup.
Backed by a crowd of more than 120, the hosts started the game well and looked hungry for the ball.
The first half proved to be a nervy affair and despite good periods of possession for either side, few clear-cut chances were created, although Town defender Steve Strong was forced to head the ball off the line after a Dorchester corner and goalkeeper James Conn was frequently called into action but dealt well with anything coming his way.
The visitors proved dangerous from their left flank but Watlington’s defence held firm.
The midfield, led by captain and man-of-the-match Damian Rigozzi, worked tirelessly and played some good football, but the final ball needed to penetrate a well-marshalled Dorchester defence was proving elusive.
Allan Stevenson and Pete Ashman had shots on goal but they were unable to break the deadlock.
Early in the second half Dorchester tried to seize the initiative with more pressure on the right-hand side of Watlington’s defence, but Town escaped punishment and soon worked their way back into the game.
Midway through the second half, a moment of quality changed the complexion of the afternoon. Striker Stevenson picked up the ball outside the Dorchester penalty area and after riding a challenge by a defender unleashed a strike that flew past the Dorchester keeper in the visitors’ goal.
The visitors increased the pressure again on Town and eventually got their reward when Rob Hudson converted a cross from a corner with five minutes remaining.
Dorchester looked capable of stealing a winner but in the final minute of the 90, and with a potentially nervous and exhausting extra-time looming, Town pushed forward one final time and won a corner.
In a dramatic finish to the game, Luke Yeulet’s whipped cross was turned in from close range by Ashman to spark celebrations.
Dorchester had no time to respond, and Watlington were able to celebrate reaching their first cup final for more than a decade against Hellenic League side Thame United Reserves. A date and venue for the game has yet to be confirmed.
Watlington Town: Conn; J Little (King, 58 mins), Bridges, Strong, Taylor, Yeulet, Clements, Rigozzi, Ashman, B Little (Roberts, 74 mins), Stevenson. Subs not used: McNiffe, Wright.