Wallington returned to their Oakford Park ground at Scots Gap on Saturday, January 27 to play a first home home game since September 23 and celebrated by clinching a place in the Team Valley Carpets Challenge Cup Final with a hard fought 1-0 win against Northern Alliance Premier Division rivals Burradon & New Fordley.

Both teams came into the match in great form with the visitors unbeaten in nine games in all competitions, while the hosts had only tasted defeat once in the previous eight games.

Burradon & New Fordley's chances weren't helped by the absence of recent signings Kyle Gilmour, Amir Moore, Lee Waugh and Graham Williams who had all scored against Walkergate FC the previous week but were ineligible for the semi-final having failed to play the requisite number of games for their new club, while injured striker Jack Palmer was the only notable absentee from the Wallington squad.

The opening quarter of the game was an end to end affair lacking in clear-cut chances and neither keeper was tested with anything more than routine.

Burradon & New Fordley full back Alistair Stoddart won an early corner when his shot from the edge of the box deflected off winger Keelan Nellis, with the resulting delivery half-cleared before the return ball through a crowd of bodies was gathered by keeper Aaron Carr.

Soon after, a long ball over the top almost caught Carr napping but he just did enough, diving at the feet of the onrushing striker in the box and the ball ran loose to the byline.

The visitors' defence dealt comfortably with a couple of counter-attacks either side of a second corner which came to nothing.

On the quarter-hour mark, Wallington centre forward Jordan Nellis broke forward at pace from half-way and fed Micky Angus to his left but the winger's attempted lob failed to clear keeper Thomas Shanley.

The visitors were soon pressing again with centre forward Dean Walker's shot blocked in the box by Curtis Williamson before being cleared, and Scott Bamborough's free-kick curled into the box was headed over by an unmarked Walker.

At the other end, one of Carr's wind-assisted clearances was picked up by Jordan Nellis down the right-hand side of the box. After turning his man and cutting inside, his low strike from an acute angle was blocked by Shanley for a corner which came to nothing.

In their next attack, more trickery from Nellis mid-way inside the opposition half set up another chance for Angus in space just outside the box but his effort sailed harmlessly over the bar.

Burradon's pacy winger Finlay Gibson was causing problems down the right and, after breaking into the box, his final ball fired low across the six-yard box was toe-poked away from danger. Moments later, Gibson missed a great opportunity to put his side in front when a cross flicked on in the box found him unmarked six yards out but he hooked a left-footed effort over the bar.

That miss proved to be costly when, against the run of play, the hosts took the lead in the 32nd minute through Keelan Nellis. After breaking forward from half-way, Ben Turnbull spread it left to Angus on the corner of the box and the winger took a touch before cutting inside. His low shot was fumbled by the diving Shanley and Nellis was on the loose ball in a flash to prod it home from close range (1-0).

It was turning into a full-blooded encounter with both teams fully committed on a heavy pitch not conducive to free-flowing football.

Following another spell of pressure from the visitors, the final chance of the half fell to club captain Jack Fennell who was found in space inside the box but chose not to shoot first-time and was closed down before poking an effort wide of Carr's left-hand post.

The visitors stayed on the front foot in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Joe Besford's 20 yard low strike through a crowd of bodies was palmed away by Carr diving to his right, a poor clearance went straight to Fennell who curled a 35 yard effort over the angle of post and bar, and striker David Mason's wind-assisted shot was punched out of the box by Carr.

A rare counter-attack from the hosts ended with a sweetly struck angled shot from Keelan Nellis being parried away from goal by Shanley diving low to his left, but they were guilty of giving the ball away cheaply on too many occasions and inviting pressure on themselves.

Normal service soon resumed at the other end as the visitors kept up the momentum in search of an equaliser. 

Gibson wasted another opening in the box on the left with a poor delivery that failed to find a teammate, Besford's long range free-kick bounced just in front of Carr but he held on to it, and substitute Joseph Malone cut inside into the area from the right before whipping it low across the six-yard box where a deflection worked in Wallington's favour.

Apart from a solitary corner conceded by central defender Ryan Hutchinson following good link-up play between the Nellis brothers, the hosts didn't pose a threat in the last 15 minutes.  However, their well organised defence superbly marshalled by Peter Roberts comfortably dealt with three late corners  and came up with some great blocks in the box as the visitors were unable to seriously test Carr despite enjoying the lion's share of possession and territory in the closing stages.

Every member of the Wallington squad ran themselves into the ground and the semi-final victory was a fitting way for skipper Kris Willis to celebrate his 150th appearance for the club.