St Ives lift the Hunts Senior Cup

“WE won the trophy our season deserved,” said St Ives Town’s joint manager Jez Hall after celebrating their dramatic Hunts Senior Cup win over Godmanchester Rovers on Friday night.

“It was never a classic,” he said on Saturday morning, “But I thought we just shaded it.”

The 3-1 win might not have been a classic for Hall, but for the neutral - and for Saints fans - it wasn’t far off.

It was a moment of madness in the second half that swung the game the winning side’s way. The referee, Andy Bent from Eaton Socon, had no choice but to send off Godmanchester defender Stephen Hurst and award the Saints the penalty that experienced striker Junior McDougald coolly slotted home for 2-1.

Up until then there hadn’t been much to choose between the two teams - but Hurst’s fine reaction save on 72 minutes changed all that. The centre back instinctively thrust out his right hand to deny Will Fordham, whose powerful header from an Ozie Foster corner, was destined for the net.

Having already started the game without ill star striker Paul Bass, Goddy lost another forward James Hall early in the second half when he went down after an aerial challenge.

A post-match visit to A&E confirmed the damage: a fractured eye socket and broken nose.

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“One thing led to another,” said joint Goddy manager Nev Nania. “If everything was even I think we would have beaten them, but losing Bassy was a big thing, and then we lost James and Stephen got sent off.

“Up until then, we were a force to be reckoned with.”

There were chances for both sides before McDougald got the opener on 11 minutes, touching in a low Stuart Cobb cross from a quick corner. But Nicky Hurst equalised in the 31st minute when he beat Niall Conroy-Owen with a great flick from a Joe Furness free kick.

Foster and Hall both had chances either side of the break and McDougald had an effort saved by Rob Mackney with Cobb hitting the re-bound over the crossbar.

Hall’s match ended 11 minutes into the second half and then the heavens opened - and Hurst saw red in the pouring rain with 18 minutes left.

It was to Goddy’s credit that they kept St Ives out for so long after that - but Conor Washington, a marked man throughout, celebrated goal 49 of his brilliant season in front of the Saints fans after a beautiful one-two with McDougald. It was the sweetest of strikes that beat Mackney.

“The big moments went our way,” said Hall.