Four ex-Premier League men line up as Tadcaster Albion progress past Knaresborough Town in NCEL Cup
Knaresborough Town 1-3 Tadcaster Albion (Lees 87; Stewart 28, 37, 84)
Four former Premier League players lined up as a Carl Stewart hat-trick sent Tadcaster Albion past Knaresborough Town and into the NCEL League Cup semi-finals.
Stewart produced two clinical finishes in the first half before dispatching a second half penalty to send the NCEL title hopefuls into the last four.
Toby Lees added a consolation for a spirited Knaresborough Town late on, after Brad Walker's initial shot had been wonderfully saved onto the bar by Tad goalkeeper Gary Stevens
Albion handed debuts to new signings Richard Cresswell and Seb Carole with the pair adding to the existing former Premier League experience of Jonathan Greening and Matt Heath in the Tadcaster line-up.
Former Leicester City and York City man Cresswell started up front in his first game for almost two years and the striker almost broke the deadlock with a powerful header over the bar early on.
Knaresborough's first effort came from Brad Walker's mishit half volley but the hosts were dealt a blow when influential captain Will Lenehan was forced off with a shoulder injury on 23 minutes.
It took until the half hour for the Premier Division side to fully assert their authority on the fixture as ex-Knaresborough man Carole drifted inside from the right wing at carved the home defence apart. Stewart latched onto the through ball and finished with aplomb past Boro goalkeeper Jack Rushworth.
The striker's second came courtesy of a clever flick on from Cresswell which evaded Boro left-back Calum Rodgers and gave Stewart time to jink over the advancing Rushworth.
Stewart was making his mark after spending a large chunk of the campaign on the bench for the Brewers and almost had his hat-trick when striking over from just inside the area.
After the restart, Fatlum Ibrahimi tested Stevens from a whipped free-kick before he was incensed not to receive a penalty after hurdling an outstretched leg in the Tad box.
Stewart continued to be denied in his pursuit of a hat-trick as Rushworth tipped his curling free-kick wide.
Knaresborough should have pulled one back with ten minutes remaining as Ibrahimi found Walker in space at the back post but the home forward sent his shot wide when it looked easier to score.
The Brewers made him pay four minutes later when a handball inside the box gave Stewart his hat-trick chance, and the striker left Rushworth rooted with a perfect penalty into the right-hand corner.
Knaresborough continued to pressure their higher league opponents and deservedly got a late consolation when Walker's shot was saved onto the bar and right-back Lees hooked the rebound home.
Tadcaster will meet Albion Sports in the semi-finals with a date yet to be announced.
Bridlington Town, Thackley, Cleethorpes Town or Handsworth Parramore could await the winners in the final next month.