LOCAL FOOTBALL: Substitute Sam Ward heads a last-gasp winner as Eaton Socon Reserves leave Ramsey Town with a case of Hunts Junior Cup heartbreak
PUBLISHED: 10:20 06 April 2017 | UPDATED: 10:25 06 April 2017
There was ecstasy for Eaton Socon Reserves and agony for Ramsey Town as the Hunts Junior Cup final came complete with a dramatic climax last night.
Substitute Sam Ward, a player who had been on the pitch for only two minutes after being introduced with taking a penalty in mind, ensured a shoot-out was not required by heading a last-gasp, stoppage-time winner for the Cambs League Division 1B outfit.
Ward ghosted in at the back post to nod in a deep cross from fellow replacement, and player-boss, Sammy Argyle, as the Socon second-string snatched a 2-1 victory in a pulsating showpiece clash at St Neots Town’s Premier Plus Sadium.
“To win a county cup in my first season in management is a brilliant feeling,” said Argyle. “Sam is a super-sub for us. He has a habit of coming on and getting important goals.
“It was a 50/50, end-to-end game that we could easily have lost. Having the extra man helped us towards the end.”
Argyle is referencing the fact that Peterborough & District League Division Two side Ramsey spent much of the second half down to 10 men after Dan Edwards was dismissed for collecting two cautions in relatively quick succession.
The first was brandished for speaking out of turn to referee Andrew Hitchcox, who then deemed the same player had dived in a penalty area tangle with man-of-the-match Ashley Howard.
It was a huge call for the official to make in a game of such significance, but the fact Edwards didn’t appear to protest too strongly may be telling.
Ramsey are no strangers to being in this sort of situation. They were a man light for an hour of their semi-final win against AFC Stanground Reserves when the same player was also dismissed.
Edwards also saw red in a league game last Saturday so can probably make alternative plans for Saturday afternoons for a while!
Without him, Ramsey fell behind when Tom Baxter glanced in a classy Shane Maloney cross, but they replied impressively and almost instantly as Jamie Darlow raced onto an Aiden Stanford pass and lobbed a fine finish over the onrushing Simon White.
The Socon keeper had pulled off two terrific saves to deny the same player in a first half of few clear chances, but he was powerless to prevent Ramsey defying their numerical disadvantage to level.
Darlow thought he’d completed an incredible turnaround when nodding in an Adam Taylor knock-down from close range, only to see a raised flag cut short his celebrations.
Argyle and Joe Cerveno both missed the target with presentable opportunities at the other end, but the Socon lads were not about to pass up their final chance as Ward steered his header past Town goalkeeper Anthony Jackson.
Ramsey boss Lea Jordan admitted: “Losing a cup final in that manner is a heart-breaker.
“The big decision of the game went against us, but the lads showed so much fight after going down to 10 men and I think we deserved to get to penalties.”
Eaton Socon Res: Simon White, Perri Ransley, Glen Grimes, Ashley Howard, Kirk Kidd, Andy Coles, Shane Maloney, Adam Westbury, Joe Cerveno, Tom Hall, Tom Baxter, Joe Kokotka, Sammy Argyle, Charlie Gough, Sam Ward, Ryan Barnett.
Ramsey Town: Anthony Jackson, Zak Stevens, Sam Pell, Richard O’Neill, Simon Flanz, Dan Hook, Nathan Ginty, Dan Edwardsm Jamie Darlow, Aiden Stanford, Adam Taylor, Jamie Baxter, Asif Rehman, Josh Rust, Antonio Monteiro, Lea Jordan.