With the league season finished, 4th place confirmed and still awaiting confirmation of promotion. The Saints turned their focus to the league cup final, a win for them would be well deserved after an unbelievable season for the boys in yellow. However, they still had to beat Wrens Nest to win silverware, a team which had beaten them at the start of the season.
It was a perfect day for a cup final at Darlaston Town. The sun was out and everyone was in high spirits. Dan Stevens had named an unchanged side from the one which hammered Bromyard Town 6-1 in the semi final, 7 days earlier.
We spoke to Dan Stevens ahead of the game;
“The lads go into the club’s first division one cup final with good confidence backed up by 20 wins in our last 24 games in all competitions. The main priority since the club applied for promotion to the North West Counties in November was achieving as high a place as possible in the league. The run the players put together was testament to the quality we have here and the cup is something of an added bonus that we didn’t really place too much emphasis on at any point.
We try to win every game though, whatever the competition, and that will be the same Saturday. I don’t believe in favourites in a final; there is always far too much emphasis placed on that- it’s simply whoever plays best on the day that usually comes out on top.
We should have a fully fit group of 16 at our disposal.
I think finals are special days for those people behind the scenes and supporters to enjoy along with the players. Fingers crossed they all do and our young squad give a good account of themselves whatever the outcome.”
A minutes silence was held before kick off in remembrance of Ryan Passey, whose life was sadden took at the start of the season.
It didn’t take long for St Martins to get stuck into the game, within a minute of kick off they were through on goal. A great ball over the top of the Wrens Nest defence from Calum Bennett for Brendon Price to chase down, however the goalkeeper was quick off his line to collect it.
But 6 minutes later, the Saints had the first goal of the game. After some superb passing play from the midfield, a loose ball bounces of a Wrens Nest defender, however Dave Easthope seized the opportunity to try a volley from the edge of the box and his effort was rewarded when it fired into the top corner. A spectacular effort from Easthope to put the Saints into the lead.
The first goal had put the Saints in the mood for more goals. In the 10th minute they grabbed their second. Callum Graybrook picked the ball up and played a quick pass out wide for Elliot Howes to run at, a low driven cross finds the feet of Melusi, who keeps his composure and slots home at the far post. A dream start to the cup final for St Martins.
It wasn’t long after when Wrens Nest decided to ruin the Saints early celebrations. A cross from out wide was poorly defended by the Saints defence, and James Durman was beaten in the air by the forward who headed home out of reach from George Austin.
It went from bad to worse for the Saints, in the 15th minute Wrens Nest grabbed an equaliser. After giving away a free kick out wide, the ball is floated into the penalty area and the Wrens Nest forward tries a spectacular volley which finds its way past Austin. A dramatic first 15 minutes of the league cup final.
There was no messing around, and the Saints soon went back into the lead in the 20th minute. An inch-perfect ball splits the Wrens Nest defence and Melusi finds himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, and he keeps his cool by rounding him and tapping the ball into the empty net.
St Martins almost extended their lead a few minutes later. This time Easthope drives at the defence, a quick pass to Graybrook out wide is followed by a cross into the centre of the box but Price didn’t connect well with his shot and the defence clear the ball.
The Saints continued to pile on the pressure. Melusi plays a deep cross into the box from a short corner, it finds the head of Durman, who heads it back into the box and Price tries a spectacular volley but its cleared off the line to deny the Saints from extending their lead.
An extremely entertaining first half of football in the league cup final, and its St Martins who take a 3-2 advantage into the second half.
The Saints carried on from where they left off in the first half. The first chance coming shortly after the start of the second half, some quick passing between Melusi, Harrison Millington and Graybrook, leads to a flick for Graybrook to shoot at goal, but its saved by the goalkeeper.
Just pass the hour mark and the Saints almost extended the lead. A quick counter attack from substitute Dave Hartshorn from a ball over the top. He squares the ball to Millington but he gets the ball stuck in his feet and cant get a shot on target, however Price quickly picks the ball up but his effort is fired over.
In the 71st minute, Wrens Nest grabbed their equaliser. They had been applying the presser on the Saints back four, and it paid off when they drilled the ball past Austin from a quick counter after the Saints lost the ball in the middle of the pitch.
However, the Saints showed by they were favourites 5 minutes later. They showed their attacking ability when Melusi pulled the ball back for Millington to shoot at the sight of goal, however his effort is blocked and Price picks up the loose ball and fires it into the top corner to put the Saints into the lead with 15 minutes left.
Seconds later and the ball was in the back of the net again. A fantastic counter attack from St Martins is finished by Melusi squaring the ball for Price to tap home. A goal which could seal the victory.
The Saints league cup victory capped off a superb season for everyone involved with the club.