WORCESTER City will take the narrowest of leads down to Southend next weekend after Elliot Hartley's brilliant finish secured a 1-0 victory in the first-leg of the Isuzu FA Vase semi-final with Great Wakering Rovers on Saturday.

Over 3000 filled the main stand at Sixways for the highly-anticipated contest but it was a cagey affair that needed a bit of brilliance to decide it, and it was Hartley who did that off the bench, turning on the edge of the box before curling an unstoppable effort into the top corner with just 13 minutes to play.

It sets up the tie beautifully for next weekend and the visitors on Saturday certainly proved that they have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with Chris Cornes' men once again in seven days time.

And, for a lot of the first-half, Great Wakering enjoyed plenty of possession and had chances to take the lead.

Logan Stoddart had to produce a fine last-ditch block to keep the scores level and a mistake from Kirk Layton presented Hafeez Ade Elegushi with the golden opportunity right on the stroke of half-time, but having gone around keeper Haydn Whitcombe, the City number one got back to dive on the ball and rescue his centre-half.

The game remained tense going into the second-half but the tempo was raised by City around the hour mark and they thought they had the opening goal when Chris Knight headed home from a corner, only for the referee to blow for a foul on visiting keeper Luis Shamshoum.

The introduction of Hartley and Dylan Hart improved matters for City and it was the former who produced the moment of magic. The winger took a touch outside the box and whipped a fine finish into the top corner to send the 3000 City fans into wild celebrations.

City spent the remainder of the contest looking for a decisive second and Izak Reid was only inches away from getting on the end of Hart's dangerous low cross before the same player fired over the bar from only eight yards out.

Hart's header in stoppage time was hacked off the line and Shamshoum reacted quickly to tip another effort over the bar.

But City had to settle for just the one goal in the end, which they will take down to Great Wakering next week, where avoiding defeat will see them reach Wembley.