Gardner pops up to put Ardley into the last four

Jon Gardner grabbed the late winner as Ardley United moved into the semi-finals
Jon Gardner grabbed the late winner as Ardley United moved into the semi-finals

Jon Gardner grabbed the late winner as Ardley United progressed to the semi-finals of the Bluefin Insurance Challenge Cup with Saturday’s 1-0 victory at North Leigh Reserves.

Kevin Brock’s side had suffered their biggest defeat of the season against North Leigh in the Hellenic Floodlit League Cup so they knew it was going to be a tough test at Eynsham Park.

A goal-less first half did not reflect the extent to which Ardley dominated and were only threatened on the break. Despite having the majority of possession, Ardley could not convert any of the half chances that came their way with Conor Ingram and Gavin Kidd shooting wide or having shots blocked.

At the other end, Conor Robins and Jacob Hughes were also denied but the visitors but the second period was more closely contested as North Leigh began to play with more belief. They went close when Gareth Beale broke free in the area only to be denied by a last ditch effort from Chris Jackson who whipped the ball off his toes.

That signalled the start of an end-to-end series of near misses with Gardner and Kieran Scott going close for Ardley and Rory Linford doing the same for the hosts. As the clock ticked towards the 90 minute mark, Hughes had a gilt-edged chance to put North Leigh into the semi-final but he mis-hit his shot wide.

Deep into added-time Ingram broke down the left and crossed for Scott to find Gardner and his shot found its way through a crowded box into the back of the net.