Alfreton Town reached the final of the Derbyshire Senior Cup when they extended their unbeaten run at Gresley FC on Tuesday night.
But they had to survive going behind in the 19th-minute and the hosts having a late goal ruled out.
Gresley, of the Evostick First Division South, thoroughly deserved their lead on a tricky pitch, which came after Andi Thanoj had seen his shot blocked and Jordan Robertson had gone close for the Reds.
The goal when it arrived was a simple one, Martin Smyth latching on to a long through-ball from Lucas Harrison to cut in and drive the ball low into the far corner of the net.
Further chances fell to Gresley’s player-manager Gary Ricketts and Liam Holt before Sam Smith’s response was a stifled shot that was deflected behind for a corner.
Reds’ keeper Matt Duke made a superb save from Jordan Ball in the 39th minute, although a raised flag would have nullified the goal, then Alfreton suddenly applied telling pressure that led to Robertson’s shot being blocked by Harrison before the ball was turned behind for a corner.
Thanoj stepped up to deliver the 41st minute flag-kick and Jamie Jackson’s header somehow forced its way over the line, despite three home defenders nicking the ball en-route without any deviation of flight, the last desperate touch being from John Guy on the line.
Chris Richards progressed into the Alfreton area five minutes after the break, but was crowded out, then on 66 minutes a weak back-pass from Jake Carlisle almost let in Jackson, but keeper Rob Peet recovered well.
Two minutes later Robertson fired over from Joe Leesley’s tee-up, then both Jackson and Robertson had successive shots blocked before the Reds took a 71st minute lead in fortuitous circumstances.
It was another woeful back-pass that cost Gresley this semi-final, Harrison’s header too strong for Peet who fumbled and dropped the ball, not helped by the bobbly pitch, leaving Leesley to fire home from a tight angle.
Duke had to be alert as Holt unleashed a drive from 30 yards, Leesley had another effort held as Alfreton responded, then in the first minute of added time a period of extra-time was only averted when referee lan Smedley spotted an infringement as Ricketts bundled in a deep Harrison free-kick.
GRESLEY: Peet; Carlisle (Machin 87), Harrison, Guy, Barrett, Smyth, Holt, Langston, Ricketts, Ball, Richards. Subs not used: Lansdowne, Dakouri, Cottrell, King.
ALFRETON: Duke; Moyo, Jordan, Heaton, Allan, Wilson (Leesley 14), Thanoj, Bradley, Jackson, Smith, Robertson. Subs not used: Jones, Meikle, Nyoni.