HOLDERS Henleys Athletic remain on course to retain the League Challenge Cup although they were made to fight all the way by Division Two promotion chasers Brompton-on-Swale.
The visitors arrived on the back of a run of seven straight victories in all competitions and were confident of causing a cup shock. They raced into a 2-0 lead inside half an hour, but Henleys dug deep and fought back to book a last four showdown with Northallerton Police.
The confidence running through the Brompton ranks was clear from the start and they grabbed a fifth minute lead. Ali Logan was brought down in the penalty area by Dave Taylor and Dean Wilson confidently beat goalkeeper Brad Elsworth from the spot.
A shock looked on the cards when Logan then made it 2-0 midway through the first half and had Brompton held that advantage until the break they may well have hung on.
But in the dying moments of the half, Henleys pulled a goal back and that changed the whole complexion of the tie. A long-range effort from Mark Raw was only palmed out by Brompton ‘keeper Lee Wasden straight into the path of Mark Hemingway who tapped into the empty net.
The holders came out strongly at the start of the second period and scored three times in the opening 20 minutes to take control. Anthony Stones created the equaliser when he beat three Brompton players on the left before drilling the ball across the goal for Raw to finish, while Hemingway then put Henleys in front, heading home a corner from Tom Keegan.
The tie looked to be over when Raw made it 4-2, firing past Wasden from the edge of the penalty area after good work from Guy Smith, but Brompton were not about to throw the towel in just yet.
There were a little over ten minutes remaining when Tom Graham pulled a goal back and it was game on again.
For a while the tie was in the balance but as Brompton pressed on for the equaliser that would have taken the tie into extra time, Henleys broke out to seal their place in the last four with three minutes left – Keegan bursting past three challenges before coolly slotting into the bottom lefthand corner of the net.
That was not quite the end of the drama as Henleys were reduced to ten men in the closing stages. Smith was shown a straight red card for a late challenge on David Addison which led to the Brompton man being carried from the field, but it was too late to affect the result and the holders march on.