Speedy Marvin McClean’s strike won The FA Vase for Wessex League champions Sholing in a close-run Final at Wembley Stadium.
After struggling to convert early chances into shots on target, the Boatmen turned the screw after the interval and McLean charged down the left hand touchline before cutting in to seal glory for Dave Diaper’s men.
That meant heartbreak for West Auckland, who have now lost on all three of their visits to the National Stadium. They sunk to the floor as Sholing’s full eleven charged over the crash barriers to share the magic moment with their massed ranks of supporters.
The Hampshire outfit started the afternoon on the attack, but were nearly made to pay for their early enthusiasm when John Campbell was slipped through on the counter. But man of the match stopper Matt Brown was alert to the danger and got his body in the way.
His opposite number Jordan Nixon was also in action in the first ten minutes as he raced out to block Lee Wort's direct run. Sholing used the flanks well in the opening exchanges, with Marvin McLean and Barry Mason spreading the play from left to right as they made good use of the expansive Wembley pitch.
McLean's pace gave him a sight of goal as he charged down the left and he fizzed a shot over the angle of the posts.
After that energetic opening, the game settled down and nobody was able to seize control.
The Northern League side woke up after the breather afforded by Mason's treatment for injury, with Brown's box being peppered with crosses. Shaun Vipond did well to hit the target from 20 yards out but his effort didn't have enough pace to trouble the goalkeeper.
Byron's brother Barry fired over as the first half drew to a close, with the Wessex League champions creating their fair share of chances, but failing to convert them into many shots on target. That was the difference between the sides in the opening period; West Auckland kept Brown busy as he had to throw himself to his right to push Robert Briggs' vicious free kick away.
Brazil famously forced teams to wait in the sweltering heat by emerging late from the dressing rooms in the 1970 World Cup finals in their homeland, and West Auckland pulled a similar trick by making Dave Daiper's men wait in the pouring rain as they took their time to emerge for the second half. The heavens had opened and it was a question of who would adapt better to the conditions and lift the silverware.
Fortunately both sides took a positive approach by attempting to skid passes off the famous Wembley turf; the goalkeepers, meanwhile, were wise to punch rather than attempt to catch balls.
Barry Mason broke free on the hour mark but skewed his shot wide under pressure from Green. But Sholing wouldn't be denied and their pressure finally told with 20 minutes remaining when Marvin McLean showed a clean pair of heels to Neil Pattinson before cutting in from the left flank to hit a deflected effort into the far corner. Team-mates followed him for an pile-on in front of their jubilant supporters.
The sun came out as Sholing were on course to become the third ever Wessex League club to lift the FA Vase, and their fans were in good voice.
It's a well-used phrase that you're the most vulnerable when you've just scored, and so it was that West Auckland piled on the pressure at the other end. Substitute Dan Miller was booked for a cynical challenge as Peter Dixon's men went forward in numbers. Dennis Knight's resulting free kick was tipped expertly over the bar by Brown, who then confidently claimed a cross from the next attack. Goalkeeper Jordan Nixon joined the attack as West Auckland went for broke, and only the post stood in the way of a dramatic late equaliser as the box was clogged with bodies.
That was game up as the north-south battle was decided. It was the icing on the cake for a fantastic season for Hampshire non-league football, with Gosport Borough also reaching Wembley in the FA Trophy, and Eastleigh romping to the Conference South title.
Dave Diaper, who was in the crowd as Southampton won the FA Cup in 1976, claimed to have visited the gym twice a week in the lead-up to the final so that he would be fit enough to walk up the famous steps to collect his medal. He just about made it and had the biggest smile in the stadium as the famous trophy was held aloft.
1 Matt Brown, 2 Mike Carter, 3 Marc Diaper, 4 Pete Castle (15 Dan Miller, 53 minutes), 5 Lee Bright, 6 Tyrone Bowers ( 14 Kevin Brewster, 76 minutes), 7 Barry Mason, 8 Lewis Fennemore (16 Alex Sawyer, 77 minutes), 9 Lee Wort, 10 Byron Mason (Captain), 11 Marvin McLean
Subs not used: 12 Ashley Jarvis, 17 Nick Watts
Manager: Dave Diaper
Goal: Marvin McLean (71 minutes)
Bookings: 8 Lewis Fennemore (67 minutes), Lee Bright (69 minutes), 15 Dan Miller (78 minutes), 16 Alex Sawyer (82 minutes)
West Auckland Town:
1 Jordan Nixon, 2 Neil Pattinson, 3 Andrew Green (Captain) (15 Jonathan Gibson, 63 minutes), 4 Daryll Hall, 5 Lewis Galpin, 6 Brian Close, 7 Shaun Vipond (12 Stuart Banks, 78 minutes), 8 Robert Briggs, 9 Mattie Moffat (17 Steven Richardson, 74 minutes), 10 John Campbell, 11 Dennis Knight
Subs not used: 14 Paul Garthwaite, 16 Adam Wilkinson
Manager: Peter Dixon
Booking: Andrew Green (27 minutes)
Referee: David Coote (West Riding FA)
Assistant referees: Constantine Hatzidakis (Kent FA), Adam Nunn (Wiltshire FA)
Fourth Official: Paul Tierney (Lancashire FA)