NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Milestone man Tom Coles strikes again to earn Hunts Senior Cup success for Eynesbury Rovers
- Credit: Archant
A century of goals for one club is a hell of achievement, but number 101 proved even more special for Eynesbury hero Tom Coles tonight as it secured Hunts Senior Cup glory.
Match-winner Coles’ header three minutes before the break ensured Rovers claimed the scalp of higher-level neighbours St Neots Town to lift the county crown for the first time in 15 years courtesy of a 1-0 success.
Coles beat goalkeeper Alex Archer in an aerial duel to apply the finishing touch to a looping Jack Uttridge header back into the danger area as Saints’ appeals for a foul fell on deaf ears with their number one in a heap on the deck.
It was enough to earn a first piece of silverware during the fine Rovers reign of manager Mark Ducket, and his men certainly won it the hard way after dumping out the highest-placed team in the competition – and holders – St Ives Town at the semi-final stage.
They produced another impressive performance to claim an equally as pleasing scalp in the showpiece itself.
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The gulf between fifth-placed United Counties League Premier Division side Rovers and their 19th-placed Southern League Premier Division opponents is a substantial one in terms of league positions and finance.
But on the Premier Plus Stadium pitch it was a different story. A neutral spectator could have been forgiven for thinking Eynesbury were the team playing their football at Step 3.
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They might have hit the front after just 26 seconds when Coles steered a low effort just wide with leading scorer Craig Smith unable to get a touch at full-stretch.
Rovers were the better side throughout a first half of few chances and only a triple save from Archer prevented them from hitting the front just after the half-hour.
The Saints keeper blocked an initial Jordan Brown effort before thwarting two follow-up attempts from Jack Warwick.
But Archer was powerless to stop Coles from nodding Eynesbury into a deserved advantage three minutes before the break.
It was a goal which arrived moments after St Neots’ only real opportunity of the opening period. Lewis Wilson raced onto a ball into the box but clipped his shot onto the roof of the net.
St Neots looked like a team missing their two most dangerous players. Leading scorer Jevani Brown and fellow attacker have contributed 33 goals between them this season, but a broken hand and broken foot respectively meant they played no part in this game.
They again posed little threat in the second period when Eynesbury goalkeeper Jamie Greygoose was required to make only two saves.
The first was a fine stop, low to his right, to deny Saints substitute Tom Knowles before he also clutched a Wilson header in stoppage time.
Saints had scraped past another Step 5 side, Godmanchester Rovers, at the semi-final stage thanks to a last-gasp leveller and a penalty shoot-out triumph, but no such escape was forthcoming on this occasion.
In truth, Rovers could have wrapped the tie up long before as they again looked the better side during the second half.
Warwick was only inches too high with a rising shot from 20 yards before Coles sent a bullet of a header flashing just wide in the second period.
Substitute Allan Owen, a half-time arrival for the struggling Smith, also threatened on two occasions.
He found the side-netting with a fierce shot following a pass from the excellent Warwick and was then only a whisker away from doubling Rovers’ advantage in the final minute after a fine run and cut-back from Brown.
But one goal proved enough to earn glory for Eynesbury.
Eynesbury: Jamie Greygoose, Daniel Moyes, Jack Utteridge, Darren Woodend, James Ducket, Jordan Brown, Robert Ducket, Jack Warwick, Hayden Bream, Tom Coles, Craig Smith (sub Allan Owen 46). Unused subs: Rhys Thorpe, Jake Walton, Dom Mason, Michael Mackrell.
St Neots: Alex Archer, Tom Wood, Taylor Parr, Jonny Butler (sub Jacob Partridge 68), Harry Norman (sub Tom Knowles 46), Lee Clarke, Micky Hyem, Fernando Bell-Toxtle, Johnny Herd, Lewis Wilson, James Tricks (sub Erhan Nurettin 83). Unused subs: Saul Williams, Gary Dean.
Referee: Hallam Cutmore.