Bodmin Town 2 Saltash United 1
FOR the fifth time this century, Saltash United finished as Cornwall Senior Cup runners-up on Easter Monday in a final at Helston they had the better of, writes Kevin Marriott.
Two goals by Adam Carter proved to be the difference as Bodmin retained the trophy, winning it for the sixth time in the last eight years.
Defender Chris Menhenick set up a tense finish with a superb 83rd minute volley and substitute Sam Stevens was inches from equalising two minutes later as the Ashes produced a storming finish.
But the over-riding feeling was that Darren Gilbert’s Bodmin, used to winning trophies, had a little too much know-how for Matt Cusack’s emerging Saltash squad.
Cusack said: ‘We were disappointed because we failed to test their goalkeeper often enough, even when we were on top in the last 20 minutes.
‘I was disappointed with the goals we conceded as they were both preventable. As ever we will learn from the experience and move on.
‘We won’t dwell on this result. We are heading in the right direction and have demonstrated great progress.
‘Thanks to everyone who took time to wish us well in and around the circuit.’
In front of a crowd of 387, one of the lowest for a Senior Cup final in recent times, the game made a slow start but burst into life in the 19th minute when Saltash goalkeeper Ryan Rickard made a superb save diving to his left to keep out Sam Matthews’ header.
Three minutes later, Saltash left midfield man Callum Hall burst clear from the halfway line, took the ball into the penalty area, won a 50-50 tackle with Phil Bromhead, and unleashed a fierce volley which crashed against the bar.
Bodmin responded by taking the lead in the 24th minute. A ball forward on the right from Sam Hillson found Ben Seymour in space and he pushed the ball through to Carter, whose scuffed shot bobbled over Rickard into the net.
Saltash had a great chance to equalise in the 31st minute when Richard Maddison’s cross from the left picked out Dave Trott unmarked but he headed straight at Bodmin keeper Kyle Moore.
A minute later, Sam Hughes got behind the Bodmin defence and was about to shoot when Steve Simmonds recovered to make an excellent tackle.
Bodmin finished the half strongly and a Dan Sullivan effort, which was hammered into the dry and bouncy surface, ended up hitting the top of the bar.
Saltash keeper Rickard made an excellent double save in the 55th minute, first keeping out a fierce Sullivan shot before blocking Ben Seymour’s follow-up with his legs.
The Ashes made a double substitution a minute later as Sam Farrant and Lewis Edwards replaced Jimmy Alexander and Luke Avis-Riordan, with more emphasis on attack – but they were caught out by a simple set piece in the 64th minute.
A long throw from Jordan Pearce to the near post was only half cleared, and the ball fell to Carter, who squeezed his close range shot into the net.
Saltash’s top scorer, Ryan Richards, had been kept very quiet by a well-marshalled Bodmin defence but he did find a yard of space in the 71st minute to fire in a shot which Moore was forced to push behind for a corner. From the cross, defender Callum O’Brien headed just wide.
Sam Stevens was introduced for the hard-working Sam Hughes 16 minutes from time and the young striker started to make a nuisance of himself as Saltash continued to push for a goal.
It arrived seven minutes from time when a corner was only half cleared and Menhenick, standing on the edge of the penalty area, unleashed a volley with the outside of his left boot which struck the inside of a post on the way into the net.
Roared on by a crowd which wanted to see the underdog fight back, Saltash came desperately close to equalising two minutes later as Stevens turned his marker eight yards out and with keeper Moore stranded on his line, saw his low shot skim the outside of the post.
It was to be the closest the Ashes came to forcing extra time, despite camping in the Bodmin half for the late stages, including four minutes of time added on.
Bodmin: K Moore, S Hillson, J Pearce, L Bailey, S Simmonds, N Milton, S Matthews, D Sullivan, A Carter, B Seymour (P Bromhead 81), A Kelly.
Subs not used: C Hardcastle, B Davies, J Ash.
Goals: A Carter (24 & 64).
Yellow cards: none.
Saltash Utd: R Rickard, L Russell, C Hall, C O’Brien, C Menhenick, J Alexander (S Farrant 56), L Avis-Riordan (L Edwards 56), D Trott, S Hughes (S Stevens 74), R Richards, R Maddison.
Subs not used: S Leary, H Wilson.
Goal: S Stevens (83).
Yellow cards: J Alexander (33), R Maddison (45+1), R Richards (75).
Referee: Derek Fox (Helston).
Assistant referees: G Pattison, L Wilkes.
Fourth official: S Annis.
Cornish Times man of the match: Adam Carter (Bodmin) – two chances, two goals.