Elmer reserves forced their way into the Ken Baker Cup final with a battling 3-2 home win over favourites Bersted.
With the third-division title all but wrapped up and Bersted now looking for a league and cup double, the visitors were stung early on as Elmer went close to taking the lead through Matt Hope, who was denied by a fine save.
The underdogs did get their noses in front after 24 minutes as tenacious work by Enoch Kwoffie saw Elmer awarded a free-kick close to the corner flag.
Kwoffie whipped a fierce cross into the box and with Matt Hope causing chaos in the six-yard box, the ball fell to Rafal Solski, who crashed the ball into the net.
Elmer kept their lead until the break thanks to late stand-in Kev Nanson in the Elmer goal with two fine one-on-one saves.
The second half began with Bersted enjoying their best period and they were rewarded through a defensive error after 57 minutes to level the scores.
Four minutes later it was 2-1 to the visitors when a hopeful lob caught the wind and evaded the unfortunate Nanson.
Elmer again drove forward and created a number of chances but robust and at times downright fortunate defending denied them a deserved equaliser, with the best chances having fallen to Matt Hope and his younger brother Tyler.
With time beginning to run out, Elmer whipped the ball into the box and in one glorious movement, Matt Hope swivelled and crashed in a fantastic overhead kick into the far corner with Bersted’s keeper nowhere.
Almost immediately, and with just three minutes of normal time left, the ball fell to Tyler Hope and with maturity beyond his years he crashed in what proved to be the winner.
With five minutes added on, the reserves had to dig deep – but they held on to earn the right to face The George in the division-three showpiece in April at Arundel FC.
Hunston CC 1 Elmer 2
A below-strength Elmer first team travelled to Hunston, where central defender Luis Gonzalez and midfielder Alex Norgett stepped up and scored the goals that helped maintain Elmer’s slim chance of securing promotion.