Two excellent-executed finishes fired Cottesmore Amateurs into the semi-finals of the Daniels Cup on Wednesday night after a 2-0 home success over Stamford Lions.
The Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division side were good value for their victory as a goal in each half from Wilson Iron and Tom Pope saw off the challenge of their Peterborough League Premier Division visitors.
Lions were left rue to a crucial second half penalty miss with the match finely-poised at 1-0 to the hosts as Tom Cardall saw his spot kick saved by Cottesmore custodian Ben Challis.
In what was expected to be a close contest against two sides at the same level of the non-league pyramid, Cottesmore made the most of the early running against a Lions side who, with a crucial table-topping tussle against Moulton Harrox on Saturday, were shorn of several first-team regulars.
Pope blasted an early sighter over for Amateurs after a slick move while Danny Seals set off on a surging run before firing his shot just wide.
The deadlock was broken midway through the first period with a sweet strike from wing-back Iron who latched onto a loose ball in the box before unleashing a rasping drive that gave Aidan Finn in the Lions goal no chance.
Lions rallied after the break and enjoyed their best spell of the game as they looked for a way back into the contest.
The lively Dan Aust saw an effort blocked after a spritely burst forward before Lions were awarded a penalty when Cardall was felled by Sam Cayley.
However, custodian Challis came to Cottesmore’s rescue with a smart stop to keep out Cardall’s spot kick and hand the initiative back to Amateurs.
And they made the most of the let off moments later when Seals crafted an opening for Pope with an astute pass and the home marksman turned smartly before applying a tidy finish past Finn.
Challis was called into action again to tip a looping effort onto the crossbar as Lions saw their hopes of a comeback dwindle.
It was Cottesmore who came closest to adding a third when Finn produced a good save to keep out a stinging shot from Jordan Smith as they comfortably saw out the remainder of the match to secure their semi-final spot.