Waterlooville remain on course for a league and cup double after winning a nine-goal thriller against St Helena Bobs at a freezing Farlington this afternoon.
‘Ville broke quickly inside the opening minute of their Billy Hill Cup semi-final tie, only for Wayne Longhurst’s effort to fly well wide of the far post.
But they were ahead on seven minutes. Craig Man’s ball into the box should have been dealt with by the Bobs defence but they allowed it to run through to Jimmy Hird who slotted the ball into the corner of the net.
The lead lasted less than a minute, though. Bobs won a corner and ‘Ville keeper Liam Johnson could only parry Gary Bickel’s delivery on to the head of Ricky Garnish who nodded in at the far post.
Waterlooville were back ahead inside 15 minutes when the Bobs defence failed to clear the ball and Longhurst took one touch before finishing with a controlled volley.
Incredibly it was 2-2 60 seconds later. Man brought down Garnish in the area and Bickel confidently stroked the resultant penalty past Johnson.
Still the goals came as Lee Baldacchino was set free on the left and the Bobs forward unselfishly crossed for Garnish to scramble the ball in from close range.
The match settled down after the early goal flurry, with few chances until late in the half when Danny Wilkes had a shot cleared off the line.
Wilkes was inches from levelling soon after the restart as he raced on to a ball over the top. His first effort came back off the post and the combination of keeper and defender denied him a second time.
But he was on target after 55 minutes, outpacing the defence and finishing with a low shot, despite colliding with keeper George Daniels.
That proved Daniels’ final action of the match, being forced off after injuring his hand when Wilkes scored.
Bobs had showed little threat in the second half but they won a free-kick in a dangerous position on 70 minutes. Bickel took the set piece but saw his effort come back off the wall.
Waterlooville then had a free-kick of their own 10 yards further back from which they took the lead as substitute keeper Steve Penny was beaten at his near post by Wade Johnson’s powerful low effort.
Time was running out for Bobs and after Ian Baldacchino fired the ball over the bar from 12 yards, ‘Ville looked to have made the tie safe when Wilkes stroke home to make it 5-3.
Bobs did get a goal back inside the last 10 minutes. ‘Ville appealed in vain for offside but Lee Baldacchino was alert to run on and fire his side to within a goal of their opponents.
But Waterlooville held on with little alarm to reach the final.
They will face arch-rivals Baffins Milton Rovers in the showpiece tie. Rovers won 5-1 despite playing three quarters of the tie with only 10 men after a red card.
Opponents Meon United did not help their cause by conceding twice through dreadful defensive errors and then missing a penalty.
Billy Hill Cup semi-final
WATERLOOVILLE SOCIAL CLUB 5 (Hird, Longhurst, Wilkes 2, Johnson)
ST HELENA BOBS 4 (Garnish (2), Bickel pen, L Baldacchino)