West Auckland Town booked their place in the last 16 of the Mitre Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup with a hard-fought victory over Easington Colliery.
Rhys Turnbull gave the Northern League Division Two side a surprising second half lead before Adam Burnicle struck twice in the space of five minutes.
Substitute Mason Hurworth scored the decisive goal on 89 minutes as Jak Ashton’s consolation in stoppage time saw the Colliers put in a spirited performance at Welfare Park.
West, who won the League Cup last season for the first time since 1963, advance to the last 16 to defend their title while Easington bow out in the group stage.
Assistant manager Brian Atkinson made six changes from the 3-2 defeat at Hebburn with Mark Bell, Anthony Bell, Jamie Cobain, Ross Colquhoun, Amar Purewal and Burnicle replacing Tom Flynn, Thomas Price, James Harwood, Daniel Mitton, Alex Francis and David Dowson.
Callum Guy had West’s first chance inside three minutes but failed to keep his composure and fired narrowly wide of Alex Lawrence’s left-hand post.
Guy, proved to be a threat in the early exchanges and after being played in by Anthony Bell, the South Shields loanee left Lawrence stranded and delicately chipped his effort against the crossbar.
With 25 minutes on the clock, Easington, who sit in sixth in Division Two, went close through Joe Hassanin though Mark Bell came to West’s rescue with an important block.
The Colliers ended the half stronger as Jake Dunn and Turnbull both squandered half chances before Hassanin gathered the ball and took it round Mark Bell, only to hesitate at the vital moment.
Those extra few seconds allowed Anthony Bell time to get back and produce a miraculous goal-line clearance.
Five minutes after the restart, fine goalkeeping from Lawrence prevented West from taking the lead as Purewal’s left-sided cross was flicked goalbound by Burnicle. However, some incredible reflexes courtesy of the Green Army’s number one saw the score remain on level terms.
That was until the 64th minute – Turnbull beat the offside trap and his initial shot was saved but the ex-Chester-le-Street man cleverly dinked the ball over Mark Bell at the second attempt and into the far corner.
West equalised in similar fashion just five minutes later when Francis released Burnicle in on goal and the forward confidently chipped his effort over Lawrence.
On 74 minutes, Francis and Burnicle combined once again and the latter emphatically fired home for his second of the evening despite protests for offside from the Colliers defence.
With a minute of normal time remaining, Hurworth ensured West’s passage into the knockout stages following some fancy footwork before calmly finishing beyond Lawrence in the bottom corner.
Easington pulled one back in stoppage time through Ashton after a ball in the penalty area wasn’t cleared and the substitute’s right-footed shot was adjudged to have crossed the line by Referee Samuel Packer to half the deficit.
Easington Colliery – Lawrence, Lincoln, Barrow, Ball, Pearson (c) (Talbot, 66), McGoldrick, Garside, Hassanin, Dunn (Mitchell, 46), Southern (Ashton, 66), Turnbull, Adamson
Subs not used – Middleton, Home-Jackson
Goals – Turnbull (64), Ashton (90+1)
West Auckland – M. Bell, A. Bell (Francis, 68), Hegarty, Cobain, Colquhoun (Mitton, 49), Mitchell, Thompson, Greenwood, Purewal (c), Burnicle, Guy (Hurworth, 62)
Subs not used – Dowson, Hornsby
Goals – Burnicle (69, 74), Hurworth (89)
Referee – Samuel Packer
Attendance – 131