St Andrews took the lead in the second leg of this FA Vase semi-final thanks to Brady Hickey’s fantastic half-volley from outside the box, but West Auckland came back to win 2-1 with two goals from corners in the final third of the game.
The first half was not the footballing affair the crowd at Canal Street wanted to see, and both teams looked like the occasion was getting to them. However, with Wembley looming, Hickey, an England Schoolboys player, stepped up to the plate to score a rifling half-volley that left goalkeeper Jordan Nixon rooted to the spot.
The visitors lost their star striker, Mattie Moffat who had scored 21 in 26 this season, inside the first 30 minutes after he left the field with a head injury sustained during a collision with defender Joe Latham.
Moffat’s presence was not missed though, his replacement Steven Richardson scored the equaliser from a short corner that was poorly defended. Richardson crept in at the back post and headed home emphatically from a matter of yards to make it all square.
West Auckland’s winner came late on as Knight’s corner was flicked on by Richardson, who in turn found Briggs inside the six-yard area to guide the ball past Luke Hall in the goal and send the team from County Durham through to their second FA Vase final in three years.
West had a few penalty shouts throughout the game. Close was brought down in the box in the first half but the referee played on, and when Briggs was fouled in the second half the referee deemed it to be outside the box, much to the displeasure of the away fans.
John Campbell, West’s leading scorer with 24, almost added to his tally when his drilled free kick looked to be heading for the bottom right hand corner, but it was brilliantly tipped round the post Hall.
St Andrews’ goal came against the run of play, but the best team on the day advanced to the final. West Auckland will now face Sholing in the final at Wembley on May 10th.