Easter Monday 17th April 2017
Cornwall Senior Cup Final at Helston Athletic FC
BODMIN TOWN 2 SALTASH UNITED 1
Grub: Egg Sandwich (Tescos) £1 Coffee (Costa) £2.30
Parking: Designated car park in adjacent playing field
Weather: Odd sunny spell but mainly grey & overcast
The two finalists, currently second and third in the South West Peninsula Premier Division both come from South East Cornwall. The Cornwall FA decision to take the final 60/70 miles down the road to Helston puzzled quite a few local supporters, myself included. Throw in traditional bank holiday traffic and it looked like a recipe for disaster. The boys in the black blazers from the Cornwall FA were having none of it and proceeded to turn a deaf ear to the mounting grumbles as matchday arrived. The cool characters with the LA sunglasses, reserved seats and the VIP passes simply held their nerve and smiled politely throughout. And guess what.. they were proved 100% correct by giving the final to Helston.
The Kellaway Park ground turned out to be a great venue for the big game. Excellent facilities, ample car parking, well drilled support staff, decent entertainment and a superb playing surface for this time of the year. Helston ticked every box and immediately quietened the moans and groans of the travelling supporters, we even got lucky avoiding the dreaded traffic jams. An inspired choice of venue. Well done Helston Athletic.
My traffic jam pass got me in Helston well before kick off time. I was initially going to wait until I got to the Tea Hut for some dinner but I couldn't last out. I ended up in the big Tesco supermarket just up from the ground and got an egg sandwich and some crisps. I then had a wander down to the nearby town centre and killed a bit more time having a coffee in Costa. Trouble with driving is you can't really hit the ale trail so I was doing my best to stay sensible. Last time I was in Helston it was p*ssing it down (which is nothing new for Cornwall) but on a dry afternoon like today the place looked quite presentable.
After walking back up to the ground the perimeter was getting busy, the local band were playing and a steady stream of people were keeping the admission chaps busy.
6 quid in plus a free programme, nice to see some pen pictures and colour pictures rather than the usual advert ridden publications often seen at this level, I was quite impressed with it.
As already mentioned the pitch looked a treat and it was superbly complemented by the clubhouse with its built in tea hut and the nearby stand.
The bar seemed packed and it was nice to see that Helston had put on a beer tent in the ground to quench the demand.
Looking at the two finalists most people were of the opinion it was going to be a close run affair, these two sides have been nip and tuck all season. Bodmin won the treble last season but Saltash have won plenty of admirers this term for their open and attacking style of football. The line ups were both strong with Bodmin featuring Dan Sullivan, big Adam Carter and Lance Bailey while Saltash could respond with the likes of Jimmy Alexander, classy Callum Hall and Ryan Richards the goal machine.
Even the coaching staff sported big personalities, Bodmin with the fiery master tactician Darren Gilbert and Saltash with the equally astute Matt Cusack.
The match itself has already been well reported via the various media outlets. My brief summary of the proceedings underlines the close competitiveness of the game. The first half was a tactical battle with good quality passages of play, both sides continually opting to probe and press searching for weaknesses. Bodmins formidable hitman Adam Carter pounced on a half chance to put them 1-0 up, some may say he was slightly fortunate as his finish was mistimed but they all count when the ball hits the net, Saltash were left to adopt a Plan B if they wanted to get back in this final.
The second half witnessed an even more spirited Saltash response and Bodmin seemed to be losing the 50/50's and the second balls, possession football swung to Saltash so it was even more surprising when Adam Carter got his second goal as he muscled himself a clinical 6 yard opportunity to put Bodmin 2-0 up and right in the driving seat. Saltash now had it all to do. Bodmin dropped back which allowed Saltash a last push with the clock ticking down. A superb strike from Chris Menhenick thundered into the Bodmin net, 2-1 setting up a thrilling final 10 minutes as Saltash threw everthing forward. It is a credit to the spirit and tenacity of the Bodmin side that they took the full Saltash pressure and dealt with it both adequately and professionally. The more frantic Saltash rushed forwards the more calm and calculating Bodmin became as they eased the clock down for victory. All credit to them for retaining the Cornwall Senior Cup.
All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable day out.
Even more, the Match Shed got me home quicker than the outward journey.