Miners down Saints to progress to semis

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LAXEY are through the Cu-Plas FA Cup semi-finals after coming away from a potential tricky tie at runaway Division Two leaders St John’s with a 1-2 win.

Saturday’s highly anticipated quarter-final encounter at Mullen-e-Cloie was far from a classic with both teams failing to produce the quality they are capable of.

After a goal less first half, Steve Falconer’s depleted top-flight side struck twice in five second half minutes through midfielders Danny Rose and Darren Hudgeon to put the Miners in control of the tie.

Saints player-manager Nick Hurt pulled a goal back at the death, but the hard-working hosts couldn’t add a second to force the match into extra time.

Despite missing several first team regulars it was the 2006 winners that started the brighter and nearly edged in front when Hudgeon’s rasping shot cannoned back off the Johnners’ cross bar.

After their early scare, the hosts settled well and showed glimpses of why they have steam rolled the rest of the second tier thus far this campaign.

Andy Glover’s teasing cross from the right was cleared away from under the bar by Laxey full back Gary Williams before Calum Gallagher’s bundled effort was cleared off the line by Josh Thomas.

With the pace and power of silver boot contender Stephen Glover available to the Saints, a shock looked on the cards with the Premier League outfit struggling to find their rhythm.

However, Hurt and Malcolm Blackburn’s promotion certainties were then dealt a major below when midfielder John Wrigley was forced off injured in the 18th minute.

With his departure the westerners lost the foothold in the match they had began to build up and Laxey nearly edged in front when Rose’s free kick from 25 yards was tipped over by former island keeper Gary Burgess.

The game opened up as it neared the interval and both teams had chances to edge their noses in front going into the half-time break.

Hudgeon headed over roving full back Daryl Haslett’s cross from the right before Andrew Chadwick saw his shot cleared off the line by Fraser Vaughan after Laxey keeper Paul Gerrard had spilled Hurt’s free kick.

Laxey started a second half that was soon to be blighted be free kicks the brighter of the two sides and the impressive Vaughan was denied after barely 60 seconds into the period.

The Miners made their pressure count in the 55th minute when Rose turned in Thomas’s clever free kick to the near post.

Just four minutes later Laxey doubled their advantage when Hudgeon showed quick feet in the St John’s box before slotting past Burgess after an initial Miners attack was only half cleared.

St John’s tried to hit back and enjoyed some good pressure, but crucially didn’t test Gerrard who continues to deputise for injured island keeper Mark Blair.

With the second tier outfit pushing for a way back into the fixture, Laxey began to utilise their pace on the counter to good effect.

Halslett fired a speculative volley from the edge of the area just over the bar before Hudgeon drew a good save out of Burgess after a rapid break down the left flank.

Lee Cowley then nearly sealed his team’s advancement when he shot narrowly wide at the near post.

Laxey’s wayward shooting nearly came back to haunt them as Hurt cashed in on a poor clearance from Nick Leung’s free-kick into the visitors’ box.

With only minutes remaining the hosts tried to force a second, but as was the story of their second half, they couldn’t create anything to test Gerrard.

Team check

St John’s: Gary Burgess, Andrew Chadwick, Wes Kitching, Nick Leung, Sam Ingham, Mike Peace (Chris Blackburn 80m), John Wrigley (Kevin Shimell 18m), Nick Hurt, Andy Glover, Stephen Glover, Calum Gallagher. Sub not used: Danny Lee.

Laxey: Paul Gerrard, Gary Williams, David Corlett, Alan Harrison, Daryl Haslett, Darren Hudgeon (Andy Falconer 86m), Danny Rose, Fraser Vaughan, Ashley Webster, Lee Cowley, Josh Thomas. Sub not used: Keith Brown.

Referee: Huw Matthews. Assistants: Danny Cowin and Gerry Thomson.

Booked: Ingham (St John’s); Cowley, Harrison, Falconer, Vaughan. (Laxey)

Man of the Match: Thomas (Laxey) worked tirelessly down the flank for the Miners.

Match rating: HHIII

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