The Hawks kept their nerve to beat AFC Portchester 4-2 on penalties after their Hampshire Senior Cup quarter-final tie finished 2-2 at Wicor Rec tonight.
The visitors were outplayed for 80 minutes and got out of jail with two late goals.
It was a real sickener for the Royals who had outplayed their senior opponents for much of the game and didn’t deserve to lose.
Indeed, it was no more than they deserved when the hosts took a ninth-minute lead.
Joe Bye whipped in a corner from the right and the unmarked Hardy powered a downward header past Hawks goalkeeper Ryan Young.
Three minutes later, the Royals repeated the feat – this time Parish heading a Louie Castles corner in at the near post as the Royals threatened an upset.
But with eight minutes remaining Scott Donnelly slipped Hawks striker Matt Paterson through and the striker fired under goalkeeper Thomas.
A minute from time visiting substitute Dan Strugnell converted a Ben Swallow cross to send the tie to penalties.
And the visitors held their nerve – thanks to two stops from Young to book a spot in the semi-finals.
Hawks manager Lee Bradbury said: ‘Portchester were the better team.
‘For long periods od the game we were not good enough – I wanted the players to show their endeavour desire and hard work and it didn’t happen.
‘We were better in the second half and gave it more of a go. But that’s not good enough – we have to do it for the whole game.’
Portchester boss Graham Rix said: ‘We are all gutted because we didn’t deserve to go out like that.
‘Our performance was magnificent – we outfought them and outplayed them for almost all of the game.
‘We were the real winners.’
Elsewhere, Bognor kept their Ryman League premier division title hopes alive with a 3-0 win over 10-man Leiston.
Alfie Rutherford, Snorre Nilsen and Jason Prior all netted for the in-form Rocks.
Moneyfields’ Russell-Cotes Cup hopes ended, though, following a 2-1 defeat at home to Otterbourne.
It got no better for Fareham Town, who stretched the period since their last home game to three months and nine days after their Wessex League premier division game against Folland Sports became the latest casualty.
The Hampshire Senior Cup tie between Horndean and Totton & Eling at Five Heads Park also fell victim to the weather – at the seventh attempt to stage the game.
– KEVIN RICKETTS