With two unbeaten sides meeting, something had to give and after leading Division One’s top side for most of the tie, Melton Foxes were cruelly beaten by two late goals.
Melton started the sharper and in their first attack Shaun Smith laid the ball back to Cameron Steans whose side-footed effort was denied by a superb full-length save.
Melton kept up the tempo, and after Alex Walker fired wide, Alex Horobin went on a powerful run down the left before cutting in and slipping the ball to Steans who turned superbly and crashed a low drive into the corner of the net.
Smith was inches away from a second when his shot rolled agonisingly past the post, while Adam Lauchlan headed just wide.
Barwell pressed after the break, but Melton’s back four of Bates, Nickolls, Lauchlan and Wilkinson stood firm.
Smith should have put the game out of sight when a move down the left put the striker clear. The keeper superbly blocked his shot, but with the goal at his mercy the normally deadly striker thrashed the rebound against the bar.
With Horobin bossing midfield, supported by Walker and Thorpe, Barwell couldn’t make any real impact. But they were gifted an equaliser 10 minutes from time when a 30-yard free-kick caught keeper McNeight off his line and the ball sailed in.
As the game was heading to penalties, Barwell rocked Melton with a cruel last-gasp winner. The Foxes’ defence blocked a close-range effort from a corner, but the rebound dropped for a forward to seal the Foxes’ fate.
Foxes: C. McNeight, J. Bates, J. Nickolls, A. Lauchlan, G. Wilkinson, A. Walker, K. Jones, A. Horobin, L. Thorpe, S. Smith, C. Steans, C. Lovegrove, B. Carroll, A. Kotarba, H. Mayes, C. Ainge.