SUPER-SUB Nathan Paxton was the hero for Horndean as the Portsmouth Senior Cup headed to Five Heads Park last night.
Paxton, a target for Southampton earlier in the season, came off the substitutes’ bench and produced the winning goal with his very first touch of the ball to condemn Moneyfields to a 1-0 defeat at Dover Road.
The victory sealed a wonderful season for the Deans, who next season will return to the Wessex League’s top flight following promotion from division one.
And there was no-one more proud of the triumph than Horndean manager Dave Carter, who was quick to praise his team’s efforts at the final whistle.
‘I felt one goal would decide the contest, and fortunately it was us who got it,’ said Carter.
‘It was a very special goal as it ended a superb season for us.
‘Winning this cup competition will go nicely with our promotion from the first division of the Wessex League.’
Gracious in defeat, Moneyfields manager Miles Rutherford admitted the better side won on the night.
‘To be fair, Horndean did well,’ he said. They were the better side and deserved to win.’
And few would disagree with his analysis of the game, with home keeper Dave Hook the reason why the Deans failed to win by a far greater margin.
He produced a string of fine saves – the first of which denied a point-blank Alex Miroy header on 20 minutes.
Moneyfields responded with Conor Bailey heading wide under pressure from Horndean defender Kevin Chatfield, before the same player went agonisingly wide with a free-kick on the stroke of half-time.
But with the hosts devoid of ideas after the restart, Hook was poised for a busy second period as Horndean turned up the heat.
The visitors were inches away from taking the lead when Aaron Fennemore met a Way corner before drilling his shot against the base of the upright.
Hook was Moneys’ savour with a fine save to keep out a Spicer effort – before he had to repeat the act as Way swept in to hammer in a shot from distance.
As Horndean continued to pile on the pressure, Gary Austin took the opportunity to dart clear and lift a shot over Hook and into the net, only for the effort to be ruled out for offside.
As play resumed, Horndean finally broke the deadlock through Paxton, who chased a long pass over the defence before firing a shot past Hook into the far corner.
Paxton was only denied a second by Hook, who flew across his line to turn aside a missile of a shot from the edge of the now-busy penalty area.
And it was the keeper again who stood up to the Horndean tidal wave as he denied Spicer in the dying minutes to save Moneyfield’s blushes further.