AFC Emley 0
Hadleigh United 1
Hadleigh United boss Stuart Crawford admitted his side were well below their best, but was delighted to equal the club’s best run in the FA Vase.
Marcus Josiah struck the only goal of the game after just 88 seconds before a backs-to-the-wall display saw the Brettsiders into the last 16.
With Wembley just three wins away, Crawford is now plotting a history-making success at Ampthill Town on Saturday (3pm).
“We came out of the dressing room on fire — the boys were well up for it,” said Crawford. “To get the goal inside two minutes was crucial — the timing of a goal is massive in football and to get an early one was great.
“We dropped our level of passing after about 10 minutes and it just turned into a battle and for the majority of the game they battled better than us.
“What we had was a fantastic defensive display and a goalkeeper who gobbled everything up.”
The hosts — formed from the ashes of former Vase finalists Emley in 2005 when they were relocated to Wakefield — boasted 34-goal hitman Ashley Flynn among their ranks and were looking to overcome the division gap between themselves and Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division outfit Hadleigh.
But the visitors, who had eased their 390-mile round trip by staying overnight in a hotel, started brightly when Scott Chaplin fired over after just 11 seconds.
It was only another 77 seconds before the former Bury Town midfielder carved his way through the middle and slid the ball through to Josiah, who slotted it between the legs of goalkeeper Luke Herriott for his 10th goal of the season and third in the FA Vase.
From then on, Emley took control of the match, but United’s defence — marshalled by Paul Donnelly and Mark Goldfinch — held firm.
The dangerous left foot of the hosts’ Liam Schofield tested Moyes with a shot from the edge of the penalty area in the 25th minute, but the best chance fell to Flynn six minutes before the break.
He smashed a free-kick into the wall before the ball was delivered back from the right and flicked on to Flynn, who managed to blaze over the crossbar from eight yards out.
Despite offering little threat since Josiah’s goal, Hadleigh almost doubled their advantage just before the interval when Lee McGlone rose to connect with Chaplin’s free-kick from deep, but guided his header against the foot of the right post.
Continuing to control possession and territory, the hosts’ best chance fell to Steve Kenworthy in the 66th minute when United switched off from Anthony Haigh’s left-wing corner, but Moyes was equal to Kenworthy’s shot at the far post, pushing the ball over the bar.
The impressive Chaplin, who struggled more as the game went on with a hamstring problem, was denied on the counter-attack by Herriott before Schofield threatened to fire AFC back into the game.
First he flashed a drive across the face of Moyes’ goal before rattling the face of the Hadleigh crossbar with a stunning free-kick from all of 40 yards.
That was as close as Emley would get and Hadleigh substitute Tom Driscoll was denied with almost the last kick of the match as the visitors edged through.
“The competition has really opened up,” added Crawford ahead of Saturday’s trip to Ampthill. “We’ve got a lot of people hungry to get to Wembley.”
Hadleigh: Moyes, McLaughlin, Wardley, Barwick (Jennings 62), Goldfinch, Donnelly, Josiah (Blades 58), Calver, McGlone, Canfer (Driscoll 79), Chaplin. Subs not used: Stace, de Lara Bell.