Alresford continued their defence of the Sydenhams Wessex League Cup crown as they saw off an under-par Sholing side 2-0 in the semi-final at Winchester’s Denplan City Ground this evening.

The Magpies, even without 43 goal top-marksman Warren Bentley, secured victory with Mike McEnery’s first minute strike and Dom Cope’s effort 15 minutes from time to set up a final with Sydenhams Division One high-fliers Petersfield Town later this month.

Within a minute of kick off, Danny Robinson’s side went ahead. Sholing ‘keeper Matt Brown attempted to clear the ball but instead it spooned off his foot to just outside his area. That mistake was costly as Zach Glasspool audaciously scooped it straight back into the box, with the ball pinging back out off the upright. The Magpies gained possession directly from it and swiftly moved the ball to the right wing where a cheeky back heel from Chris Manning found McEnery.

Brown helplessly threw himself to his left to try and save the firmly struck effort but it was to no avail as the net bulged.

The Boatmen looked a shadow of their usually dominant selves and made five changes with Ashley Jarvis, Marvin McLean, Lee Bright, Marc Diaper and Pete Castle all rested from the starting 11 who drew 2-2 at home to Eastbourne United in the first leg of the FA Vase semi-final.

They failed for much for the half to bridge the gap between defence and attack, leaving the attacking line of Lee Wort, Nick Watts and Byron and Barry Mason somewhat stranded and feeding off scraps.

That is not to take away from the industrious work of an Alresford side that was playing some typically free-flowing football.

Brown was the busiest man on the pitch, which was testament to how the Alresbury Park outfit were able to break down the Sholing defence that struggled to contain the attacking outlets of Glasspool, Suhael Odeh and McEnery, who all had efforts saved.

The second half saw the Silverlake Arena side start to get the ball down and play, but they were still struggling against a side that have scored 113 goals this season, the most in the Wessex Premier. McEnery’s night ended on the hour mark as the Alresford man kicked out at Tyronne Bowers, following a challenge, and was given a straight red.

It should have been the turning point for the Boatmen but it wasn’t to be as Cope latched on to a pass on the left of the box and swiped the ball under Brown, one-on-one, to secure victory. Sholing’s Lewis Fennemore was shown a red card for something he said to the referee and, despite a smart effort from youngster Jamie Mansell, the night ended in defeat for a frustrated Sholing.