WEST AUCKLAND manager Peter Dixon praised Dennis Knight after he fired West into the semi-finals of the FA Carlsberg Vase for the second time in three years when they beat Dunston UTS 1-0.
The game was not the spectacle Dixon and the 1,009 crowd had hoped for, but West deserved to win on the number of chances they created.
Keeper Jordan Nixon had only crosses and corners to deal with, and even then under little pressure.
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“Dennis showed how good he is with his finish,” said Dixon. “He has that extra bit of quality, you can tell that he’s been with clubs higher up the ladder. He could have scored in the first half, but the keeper did well to save from him, just as he did from Mattie Moffat.
“The players did their jobs perfectly. We worked all week in double sessions on our shape because we knew what to expect from Dunston in terms of style of play. We managed to cancel them out.
“This win will make up for our final defeat by Dunston in 2012 only if we get through our semi-final.”
After a cagey first 20 minutes, West had two good chances to take the lead.
Knight stole in unmarked and powerfully headed a Brian Close cross towards goal, but Connell pulled off a good diving save, then Connell reacted brilliantly to push an acrobatic volley by Mattie Moffat against the underside of the bar.
Former Newcastle prospect Knight got the winner ten minutes into the second half, when he controlled the ball outside the Dunston box, and coolly picked his spot with a low left-foot shot.
West could have had more, but Connell saved well from sub Paul Garthwaite when he was clean through, while Moffat and John Campbell both went close.
Moffat, who was also unlucky with an effort after he flicked the ball over two defenders said: “Their keeper kept them in it in the first half. We worked hard as a team, and our keeper didn’t have much to do. It was a great strike by Dennis for the winner.”
Dunston boss Billy Irwin was furious with his players: “You would never have thought we were playing in the quarter-final of a national competition.
“Some of our players just didn’t perform at all, and we didn’t have a shot on target.
We didn’t try and get behind them and some of our players should apologise.
“We never looked like scoring.
We went out with a lack of passion and desire – and for me, that’s hard to take.”
The 2012 final was an all- Northern League game, but there won’t be one this season because Newcastle Benfield lost 1-0 at St Andrews from Leicester.
Manager Steve Bowey was furious about a disallowed goal from Stephen Baptiste in the first half.
“Our player was two yards onside when the ball was played, it was a poor decision by the assistant,” he said.
“Nine times out of ten, we would have won that game. St Andrews didn’t want to get the ball down and play.
“If West Auckland get them in the semi-final, then you should put your mortgage on West to win.
“St Andrews had nothing.
If you lose to a good team then you can accept defeat, but at the moment, I can’t.”
Bowey missed a good chance, as did Stephen Tobin.
The only goal of the game was after 57 minutes when Dec Towers scored from a corner.
The other teams in the last four are Eastbourne United from the Sussex County League and Hampshire-based Sholing from the Wessex League.
The semi finals are over two legs on March 29 and April 5, with the final on May 10.