Holwell Sports manager John Webster believes his side have turned a corner following their derby victory over Melton Town on Tuesday night.
Three first-half goals proved enough for the visitors to seal a deserved win at Digital Deadline Park and progress into the County Senior Cup semi-finals.
They joined Lutterworth Town and Leicester Road in the last four, with the last quarter-final between Ashby Ivanhoe Reserves and Heather St Johns to be played in the new year.
The win was Holwell’s fourth away win in their last five following a slow start to the season.
“In the last four or five games we have turned a corner with our attitude,” Webster said.
“They are a strange bunch to manage and we shot ourselves in the foot a bit in October with the red cards.
“It’s taken a bit of time to get the work ethic and attitude that I was after, but now the commitment is there and it’s paying off.
“I only wish we could have started the season like that - we would be in the top six.”
Opposite number Tony Thorpe arrived late for the match because of work commitments in London and by the time he arrived his team were already a goal down.
“I thought Holwell thoroughly deserved their victory,” he said.
“The 66 minutes I saw we weren’t good enough. I know we had four or five players missing, but I expect us to roll our sleeves up and get on with it, but we didn’t do that at all in the first half.
“It was great to see 250 people or so up there, but they came to see a good game and we let them down.
“I told the players we need to recruit the right sort of personnel for next year because we have shown we can’t compete with the better teams.
“For the next 14 games they will be playing for their shirts for next season - that is my focus now.”
Holwell began the tie at a furious pace, repeating the start they made in their win at Dunkirk on Saturday.
They led 3-0 in the first half and had a penalty saved as Laithan Hammond ran riot, but an own goal on the stroke of half-time gave Webster a few extra nerves during the break.
“I said to Aaron (Ridout – captain) that if we win the toss and play down the slope, just get the ball in the box and try to get on the end of it.
“I thought we should have been five or six up by half-time and we didn’t really take advantage, but that’s my only complaint.
“When Melton pulled that goal back right on half-time I thought ‘they have the slope in the second half so who knows’.
“Hammond would cause a lot of problems for top quality defenders and he was a real handful. I thought when Melton made the change at half-time it was a real tribute to him.
“For the first 15 minutes of the second half we just took the sting out of the game and then it was just about managing the game.
“If everyone stays fit, we have to be confident of going all the way in the cup.”
Melton are the top scorers in the United Counties League Division One, but also have the division’s fourth leakiest defence, having shipped 51 goals.
And their frailties were exposed again in the first half, leaving a depleted forward line too much to do after the break.
“We know we need to sign defenders,” Thorpe added.
“We don’t have any natural defenders apart from Joe Slater who is recovering from a hamstring injury, and Alex Horobin who is only 17, but he was excellent when he came on at half-time.
“To do what we have done this season without defenders is amazing.
“We have worked hard behind the secenes to make sure we are not going to be in this position against the better teams next year.”