AIRBUS UK Broughton claimed a place in the semi-finals of the Word Cup with a 2-1 win over familiar foes The New Saints, who knocked the Wingmakers out of the competition last season.
With both sides going for the title, the teams featured fringe players given an opportunity to show what they could do but, With the advantage of being full-time, TNS were expected to have the edge.
As expected, both teams cancelled each other out early on but Airbus took a 1-0 lead on 13 minutes when Lewis Short dispossessed a Saints' defender on the edge of the area and cut the ball back for Glenn Rule to power in one of his trademark strikes from long-range to give goalkeeper Paul Harrison no chance.
Following the goal the visitors looked slightly jittery at the back and Airbus looked to exploit this by pressing them at every opportunity with both Rule and Short going close to extending the lead.
On 28 minutes the Wingmakers did doubl their advantage when Tom Field curled a brilliant free-kick past Harrison from the edge of the area. The Wingmakers deserved their lead and looked to keep the pressure on.
Just past half an hour Jamie Mullan and Aeron Edwards had attempts blocked off – a reminder of the away side’s attacking threat.
There was a long hold-up just before the break when TNS defender Connell Rawlinson was stretchered off with an ankle injury to be replaced with Kai Edwards.
The Wingmakers made a half-time change with James Owen replacing Glenn Rule in midfield. Tom Field went close with a low shot just before the hour after Airbus weathered a spell of TNS pressure.
Minutes later Harrison made a good low save from a testing Mike Roddy effort from outside the area.
On 65 minutes TNS full-back Chris Marriott cut-in from the left but his attempt was turned around the corner by the finger-tips of Airbus goalkeeper James Coates. With 20 minutes to go both teams made changes.
Ryan Wade replaced Ritchie Partridge for Airbus while Alex Darlington came on in place of Chris Jones for TNS. Mike Wilde then struck a speculative effort over the bar.
An injury to Lee Owens in the last 10 minutes forced the Wingmakers into another change as they held TNS at bay. Ian Kearney entered the action in Owens’ place.
Seconds later the Saints' Aaron Simms struck the post and with Coates beaten Aeron Edwards knocked home the rebound to pull it back to 2-1.
The last throw of the dice for TNS with minutes to go saw youngster Ryan Kershaw replaced with Greg Draper. In the final minute Mike Wilde struck the post as TNS piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser to take the tie into extra-time.
Fortunately the equaliser never came as the Wingmakers extended their incredible unbeaten run and booked a place in the semi-finals in the process.
Just as pleasing was the psychological boost of having beaten opposition as strong as TNS.
By Rory Sheehan
Below: Rule celebrates his goal.