Playing in atrocious weather conditions, Highgate were forced to work hard to overcome spirited Knowle resistance at the end of this keenly fought local derby.
Lei Brown’s brace and a spectacular strike from Trevor Edwards saw Gate deservedly through to the next round of the Smedley Crooke Memorial Challenge Cup with a 3-1 victory.
Yet, following a disappointing first-half display, Gate squandered a succession of chances after the break which should have given the final scoreline a far more emphatic look.
In the absence of Connor Mooney, Tom Lacey and Daryl Jones, caretaker boss Ashley Pulisciano welcomed back Dean Curtis from injury and gave starts to Danny Rolfe at right full back with Cameron Knight pushed forward into midfield, Nathan Edgington playing just behind the front two of Brown and Ricardo Richards.
Enjoying all the early possession, Gate tested Tim Gordon, the keeper holding on to Rolfe’s cross at the second attempt but with Richards unable to react to the loose ball.
Rolfe and Dean Curtis both defended well during a period of Knowle pressure, Roz Kane was then not far off target following a mistake in the home defence.
The opening goal came after 18 minutes. Brown, brought down on a typical surging run, dusted himself off to slot home the resulting penalty.
The visitor’s goal had a let-off when Richards’ header from Knight’s free-kick smacked against the face of Gordon’s crossbar then Gate found themselves back on level terms when, in the 35th minute, Matt Botley converted from the spot after the exposed Curtis had brought down Tom Craine in the box.
Botley then had a chance to put his side in front, beating keeper Conor McCarthy in a race for the ball only to toe-poke his effort wide.
Edwards restored his side’s lead with an unstoppable long range 53rd minute drive, then Gordon was powerless to stop Brown scored his second of the night.
Gate’s leading scorer cut in from the right hand side to beat the keeper at his far post.