Reigning Barkston Ash FA Challenge Cup champions Wetherby Athletic made it through to the competition’s final for a second successive season when they scraped past Swillington Saints.
The 2016/17 season has been one of real struggle for the Tangerines, and although they now have the opportunity to win some silverware at the end of it despite a difficult league campaign, they did things the hard way in Saturday’s semi-final showdown.
The Saints play their football in the division below Athletic in the West Yorkshire Football League, and just like Wetherby, are battling against relegation.
Yet, despite this, the Leeds-based outfit were the better side on the day, and will consider themselves unlucky to have come out on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline.
Tangerines stopper Mike Recchia was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the opening stages and had to make a fine one-handed save to keep his side on terms as early as the seventh minute.
Swillington had further chances to go ahead, but it was eventually the hosts who took a 17th-minute lead when Arran Horton’s cross was only cleared as far as Joe Dorkings who sent a looping volley over the head of the Saints gloveman.
The visitors were back on terms soon afterwards, but Athletic went into half-time 2-1 up courtesy of Jack McGahan picking up Dorkings’ pass and finding the bottom corner with a crisp shot from just inside the area.
A second Swillington equaliser shortly after the resumption, and the sides remained locked at 2-2 until the 83rd minute when Josh Buckley powered through a swath of defenders to meet Dorkings’s corner with a diving header and win the match.