Gosport Borough are heading for Wembley after beating the Hawks 2-0 in the second leg of their FA Trophy semi-final at Privett Park – and few would argue it wasn’t deserved.
Tim Sills, who scored Borough’s opener in the first leg, grabbed another two goals to secure a 3-1 aggregate win.
With the two sides locked at 1-1 after the first leg it was a winner-takes-all showdown.
Bravery and guts were always going to be the order of the day.
And it was Borough who displayed those qualities in abundance.
After forging into a two-goal lead, just before the hour mark, Alex Pike’s team were forced to play the final 30 minutes with 10-men after captain Brett Poate got himself needlessly sent off.
That only served to stiffen the Borough resolve and they comfortably kept the Hawks at bay for the rest of the game.
Nathan Ashmore, in the Borough goal, hardly had a save to make.
Even in the later stages, when the Hawks were desperately pushing forward trying to salvage something, they did not trouble the home keeper.
The stakes were high and it was the hosts who displayed a greater appetite and hunger to win.
Throughout the competition Borough have thrived as underdogs.
That has given them a seige mentality enabling them to battle hard for each other when it gets tough.
That spirit had already seen them beat Conference Premier Nuneaton and hot favourites North Ferriby away from home in the last round.
The Hawks can’t say they hadn’t been warned but Pike once again had his squad in the right frame of mind.
As for the Hawks they failed to turn up and were a massive disappointment.
In simple terms – they blew it.
Just when they needed to produce the goods most, they turned in what was probably their worst performance of the season.
Too many of the visiting players under-performed and were found wanting on the big occasion.
When they needed their top men to step up to the mark all they did was retreat into their shells.
Both teams couldn’t have asked for a better day with Privett Park bathed in sunshine with the tie catching the imagination of the local football community.
The start had to be delayed 15 minutes because many were still queuing to get in through the turnstiles at the scheduled kick-off time.
Privett Park had never seen scenes like it before as nearly 3,000 poured in to witness the contest.
The pitch, though far from perfect, wasn’t the quaqmire of Westleigh Park five days earlier and a more open game was expected.
After a predictably nervous and frenetic opening, the Hawks should have been ahead on the half-hour
Nic Ciardini went clear with only Ashmore to beat but missed the target.
A goal for the Hawks at that stage could have changed the mood of the entire contest.
Instead it was Borough who struck first on the stroke of half-time with Sills rising above the static Hawks defence to glide in a header from a corner and then again on 60 minutes with a second header.
It wouldn’t be Borough, though, if they didn’t do things the hard way and within a minute Poate lost his cool, kicking out at Perry Ryan, to get himself sent off.
With just over 30 minutes remaining Borough braced themselves for a Hawks onslaught.
Surprisingly the late push never arrived.
The visitors had plenty of possession but lacked any imagination and creativity to break down the Borough rearguard.
Long before the end, Bradbury’s side had lost their way and it was Pike and his management team, along with a couple of thousand fans, who raced jubilant onto the pitch at the final whistle.
Dejected Hawks were left to watch their rivals celebrate.