Ilkeston Rutland FC progressed through to the final of the Derbyshire Junior County Cup with an entertaining 6-3 win over Real Madina on Saturday.
Having seen several of their recent games called off due to poor weather Rutland could have been excused had they been a little rusty for this encounter, but they eventually eased through in style against the Burton and District League side.
Indeed, it was Rutland who started the brighter of the two sides with AJ Clifford and Joel Hodgkinson controlling the game from the centre of the park, and it wasn’t long before Joe Gent opened the scoring with a fine finish after ghosting past the Madina left back.
Ben Holmes then doubled Rutland’s lead minutes later, calmly lifting the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper to make it 2-0.
Gent was having a fine first-half and seeing plenty of the ball down the right hand side, while Scott Higgings was working tirelessly down the left keeping Madina penned back.
Rutland then got their third after Paul Burton found a yard of space and coolly side footed the ball into the far corner from the edge of the box giving the keeper no chance and Rutland a 3-0 half-time lead.
Manager Luke Slaney urged his men to keep it tight for the first ten minutes of the second-half and Rutland did just that.
Marc Stevenson and James Whittacker were having solid games in the heart of the Rutland defence until Stevenson picked up a knock and had to be replaced.
This unsettled the Rutland defence and Madina capitalised when the ball fell kindly at the feet of Ali Singh who finished from close range to make it 3-1.
This seemed to spring Rutland back into life and seconds later Holmes scored a absolute screamer from 35 yards out after beating three players.
With half an hour remaining Madina’s counter-attacking style of play saw them hit a second but Rutland replied with their fifth as Holmes sealed his hat-trick after a fine display from the Rutland marksmen.
A quick free kick from Whittacker caught Madina out and Holmes reacted quickest to head the ball past the keeper.
Five minutes remained when Madina were awarded a penalty. Rutland’s keeper Joe Cocking got his hand to it but it wasn’t enough and the ball rolled over the line for 5-3.
But Rutland confirmed their place in the County Cup final when Holmes whipped a ball in from the right hand side and Ian Wheat was there to finish from close range and seal the victory.
Slaney’s men will now play either Allenton FC or Broadmeadows FC in the final.
Man-of-the-match - Ben Holmes.