Peel will battle it out for their 12th Ascot Hotel Junior Cup crown next week after edging DHSOB in a feisty and hard-fought semi-final at Douglas Road on Saturday afternoon.
In a match that could have gone either way, the westerners were forced to come from behind after Dean France had given Old Boys a first-half lead before two Aaron Costain penalties sealed victory for the hosts.
However, the game was not without its controversy as the visitors were left feeling aggrieved with Peel’s equaliser in the second half, a twice-taken spot-kick after goalkeeper Kevin Kirby had impressively saved Costain’s first effort.
As expected with both teams in the top four of Canada Life Combination One, a tight contest soon unfolded in the game’s opening throes but it wasn’t long before the first chance arrived. The match was less than three minutes old when the ball dropped to Daniel Pickering some 30 yards out and the talented midfielder unleashed a first-time dipping volley which had Old Boys No1 Kirby back-peddling furiously but the ball landed on the roof of the net.
Darren Hudgeon then embarked on a barnstorming run deep into the Peel half and surged past the defence but western shot-stopper Stuart Fayle was quick off his line to block superbly.
The hosts then wasted a golden opportunity to break the deadlock when Dan Corkill beat the offside trap and met a long ball downfield but the striker sent his header sailing over the bar when a goal looked certain.
Minutes later his team-mate Tommy Tidy saw a goal ruled out for offside before the same player nodded wide following another good cross while at the other end of the pitch Dean France’s cross fell to Nick Bass on the edge of the box but his half-volley flew narrowly wide of goal.
The breakthrough finally arrived just before the interval when the ball was worked well to France 10 yards outside of the Peel area and the attacker unleashed a fierce low effort which somehow squirmed past Fayle and into the back of the net to give Old Boys a 1-0 lead at half-time.
However, the game was turned on its head 13 minutes after the interval when Peel netted twice in a matter of minutes, both via the penalty spot.
While there were few complaints about the second penalty, the visitors felt hard done by the first as Chris Clinton was adjudged to have fouled the lively Gary Smith after the attacker surged into the box from the left wing.
Despite protests, referee Stuart Kneen pointed to the spot and up stepped Aaron Costain who could only watch as his spot-kick was superbly tipped away by Kirby.
However, linesman Gareth Jones immediately flagged for encroachment and Costain promptly powered the second penalty straight down the middle to level the scores.
Buoyed by that equaliser, the hosts pushed forward and almost immediately completed the turnaround when a cross was handled inside the box and another penalty was awarded. This time Costain needed no second chance as he blasted his effort into the bottom left corner for 2-1.
The hosts went close to doubling their advantage a few minutes later when Kenny Walker delivered an inviting cross into the box but, on the stretch, Corkill nodded off target. Seconds later, Chris Cain was sent racing clean through and looked certain to score but Kirby was quick off his line and forced him to poke wide.
Peel continued to press for another goal to put the tie beyond doubt and midfielder Johnny Cain went agonisingly close when he flashed a venomous half-volley just wide from the edge of the box.
The same player then showed great perserverance to slide the ball through to Corkill but again Kirby was alert to the danger and smothered his effort.
Old Boys mounted a late charge to draw level and almost did so six minutes from time when Darren Hudgeon crossed to skipper Lee Ford but the midfielder headed just over the bar.
The final chance of the game also fell to the visitors as the ball dropped to DHSOB dangerman Darren Hudgeon who turned his defender but fired narrowly over the bar and Peel were able to see out the remaining few minutes to seal their place in next week’s Junior Cup final.
Peel: Stuart Fayle, Kenny Walker (c), Simon Cowley, Aaron Costain, Matthew McQuarrie, Johnny Cain, Daniel Pickering, Chris Cain, Dan Corkill (Jonathon Griffiths 85m), Tommy Tidy (Jordan Lee 74m), Gary Smith
DHSOB:Kevin Kirby, Adam Hudgeon, Karl Gartland (Adam Boyde 45m), David Rees, Andrew Ward, Lee Ford (c), Chris Clinton (Matthew Quilliam 75m), Chris Coxon, Nick Bass (Sean Gavin 75m), Darren Hudgeon, Dean France
Referee: Stuart Kneen
Assistants: Gareth Jones and Danny Cowin
Booked: Clinton, D. Hudgeon (DHSOB), Chris Cain (Peel)
Man of the Match: Pickering (Peel) - superb energetic all-round display from the western midfield and was a constant threat
Match rating: HHHII
In the other semi-final Corinthians came from two goals down to beat Union Mills in dramatic fashion at Garey Mooar.
Goals from the retiring Joedy Scarffe and Simon Gawne gave the Millers a two goal lead only for the ever-green Nigel Moody struck twice for the Whites to level things up.
With extra time looming large Phil Hughes bagged a late winner to send the Ballafletcher outfit through to their first Junior Cup final sinice they lifted the trophy in 2007.