Hykeham Town 2
Gainsborough Town FC 3
LEIGH Hutchinson scored a late winner to take Gainsborough Town into the semi-final of the County Cup for the second time in four years.
Town let a 2-0 lead slip with 10 minutes to go but Hutchinson fired in from an acute angle to put his side’s name into the hat, in a trophy which has now eluded Gainsborough sides for over 100 years.
The visitors welcomed back Joshua Nichol after suspension, Kierron Locking and Jamie Shaw along with Geno Robinson who was on the bench after a long stint out.
Richard Mallett stuck with the 3-4-1-2 formation that had now left Town 19 unbeaten in league and cup competitions.
Town were without Ashley Holland, serving the last of his four match suspension, and James Dickinson was missing through injury
Gainsborough started brightly and were applying much of the pressure in the opening 10 minutes, with the ball bobbling in and around the Hykeham 18 yard area.
Town were unlucky not to take the lead after 15 minutes when Craig Lills’ cross-cum-shot eluded the keeper from 35 yards only to see hit the inside of the post and bounce into the keeper’s arms.
Steve Hutchinson and Greg Andrews were putting in ntheir usual industrious shifts in midfield and were holding their own against the bullish Hykeham midfield.
Shaw was providing some excellent cover down the left, which allowed Lill to roam free.
Town broke the deadlock midway through the first half when Leigh Hutchinson combined with Lee Bognar before shooting home from an acute angle.
Gainsborough were comfortable all over the park and it was due to a fantastic defensive display by Locking, Nichol and Page.
The impressive Greg Andrews was replaced by Craig Mettam at half time, and Town doubled their advantage just before the hour mark after a terrible mistake by the Hykeham keeper who fumbled on the edge of the box and Bognar couldn’t believe his luck as he tapped into an empty net for his 18th goal of the season.
Ashley Page threatened from a free-kick which hit the crossbar from 25 yards after Hutchinson was fouled.
Two minutes later Lill could have finished the game off but for an excellent one handed save from the keeper to deny the header.
Lill broke free down the left and got in between two defenders and laid it back to Mettam who narrowly put the ball over the top after a great first time strike.
Hykeham were slowly getting back into the game and were rewarded when a striker nipped in front of Liam Andrews to nod home with an excellent finish on 65 minutes.
The hosts smelled blood, and their direct brand of football began to pay off.
It was no surprise when Hykeham drew level with ta midfielder looping a ball over Andrews after a defensive error.
Lill was then booked for a rash challenge on the Hykeham defender, who also saw yellow for his retaliaton.
With five minutes to go Leigh Hutchinson grabbed the winner after some great interplay between himself and Bognar and thrashed the ball home from 12 yards.
Town managed to hold it steady for the final five minutes and some excellent hold up play by Shaw and Mettam in the corner managed to run the clock down.
The result puts Gainsborough into their second semi final of the season.
Next week they play fellow semi-finalists Rustons in the league, hoping to make it 20 games unbeaten.