Baffins Milton Rovers survive numerous scares to beat Paulsgrove to reach the Portsmouth Senior Cup semi-finals
Baffins Milton Rovers are the first team through to the semi-finals of the Portsmouth Senior Cup.
Tommy Tierney netted twice as the Wessex League Premier Division club saw off two divisions lower Paulsgrove 4-0 at the PMC Stadium.
But the final scoreline was harsh on the Hampshire Premier League visitors who could easily have been leading at half-time instead of trailing by two goals.
Wayne Grant’s men carved out the better chances but failed to take them - the story of Grove’s season.
As a result, they were eventually undone by a strong Baffins side who were more clinical on the night.
Grant was left complaining about squandered chances following his side’s 3-1 HPL loss to Colden Common last weekend.
And it was a similar story again as Moulay Ousman and Jimmy Hird failed to take a host of first half chances in a highly uncomfortable 45 minutes for home centre halves Brandon Miller and Sam Emeny.
Baffins had an early warning when Ousman was allowed space to fire in a 20-yard shot which keeper Cameron Scott saved at the expense of a corner.
The hosts, though, took a 14th minute lead with their first meaningful attack - left back Josh Dean swinging in a delicious cross which the unmarked Tyler Moret smacked past Taylor Revy.
Baffins doubled the lead on 24 minutes when Robbie Taw got on the end of another Dean cross to net from close range.
But after that Paulsgrove, spurred on by impressive skipper Aaron Fennemore in central midfield, created a host of opportunities - Hird curling one shot wide before another effort was saved by Scott.
Ousman saw a shot deflected for a corner, while minutes later he shrugged off Emeny’s challenge to get a clear sight of goal - only to shoot straight at Scott.
Hird went close again just before half-time, shooting wide from close range after defender Rob White had knocked down a free-kick.
Grant sent on Archie Scott in place of Ousman at the interval, injecting some younger blood and a bit more pace.
Baffins’ defence would never be so stretched in the second period as they had been in the first.
But despite that, the hosts could never feel totally comfortable until Tierney grabbed his first goal on 67 minutes.
Billy Butcher had fired into the side netting from Paulsgrove’s third corner in as many minutes, and seconds later Baffins broke from the resulting goal-kick - Tierney collecting a loose ball in the visitors’ penalty area and firing under Revy.
Butcher saw another shot parried by Scott before Baffins’ superior fitness told in the closing stages.
Revy produced a great save to deny Moret and the energetic Callum Dart shot wide from a good position.
But the keeper was beaten for a fourth time in the 88th minute when Dart again ran at the visiting defence before setting up Tierney to clinically finish.
Grove’s performance was a credit to the Hampshire Premier League throughout - they should certainly be proud of a performance full of great workrate and no little skill.
But the lack of a cutting edge up front was ultimately to cost them the chance of a major upset.
Teams (starting XIs)
Baffins: Scott, Grimshaw, Dean, White, Emeny, Miller, Taw, Way, Moret, Dart, Tierney.
Paulsgrove: Revy, Butcher, Fisher, Ralph, Warlow, White, Fennemore, Cripps, Hird, Ousman, Tee.