This one's for Tommy!
ST PETER FC president Tom du Feu was shedding tears of joy at Springfield after watching his beloved club lift the Le Riche Cup for the first time in 12 years. Happy memories forged by the parish side’s current crop for a man who has dedicated over 60 years to the cause.
That is what sport is all about.
And it certainly was a final to remember on Tuesday night, with the league challengers deservedly ending any association to the ‘nearly men’ tag after countless attempts in recent years.
St Peter had not won a competition since claiming the Charity Cup in 2010, and following a crushing late defeat in the Premiership on Saturday the sense of relief after beating their nearest rivals 4-3 in Jersey’s premier cup was clear.
Regardless of what happens between now and the end of the season, when manager Gary Freeman departs for Jersey Bulls and du Feu steps away from the presidency, they can finish with a sense of accomplishment.
‘This is great for people like Tommy,’ said Freeman.
‘A lot of people do a lot of work year after year with very little reward, so these moments are for them. It has been a long time since we last tasted something like this, so I’m delighted for Tommy and everyone at the club.
‘We came close in the league last year and in the cups we seemed to lose in the last minute in the finals. After Saturday I did think “is this going to be déjà vu”, but thankfully the boys stepped up tonight.
‘We had a real tough game on Saturday, so to go 1-0 down after five minutes and come back ... I can’t praise the players enough.’
If you combine the back end of Saturday’s game with the front end of the final, St Peter’s defence had ten minutes to forget.
Jack Boyle’s last-minute strike handed St Paul’s a late win in the league three days earlier, and just five Le Riche minutes had been played at Springfield before Kieran Lester sent the yellows ahead once more.
St Paul’s goalkeeper Euan van der Vliet’s low clearance was flicked on by his midfield and the looping ball over St Peter’s defence was sent over the top of a stranded Ryan Le Couteur. The shot-stopper turned to sprint and chase but his positioning had already proved fateful.
Another blow to Freeman’s side, undoubtedly, but St Paul’s enjoyed superiority for under two minutes. The league leaders’ defence was by-passed by a high cross from St Peter’s right and Ruben Mendes was on hand to tap past a sprawling van der Vliet on the volley.
Two shots, two goals. Desirable shooting percentages.
Le Couteur was required to smother Lester’s attempts for a second with St Paul’s pushing, but it was van der Vliet picking the ball out of his net next. Calvin Weir broke into the box on the right, a collision sent possession Sol Solomon’s way and the teenager slid in to score from 15 yards.
It should have been a time to settle for the parish club, to treasure what they had earned. Instead, they were pegged back themselves on 32 minutes, with Luke Watson blasting low and hard across Le Couteur and inside the right-hand post.
Five shots, four goals. Still a good night with the shooting boots.
After the break four became five in favour of St Peter, with Solomon making no mistake on the rebound after Karl Hinds’ flick and Weir’s shot inside five yards were both blocked.
Boyle was lucky the three officials didn’t notice him kicking Mendes off the ball – an angry reaction to being impeded (but unrewarded) during a strong run forward – and St Paul’s frustrations grew after the hour when former colleague Hinds tapped home St Peter’s fourth from inches following Sam Luce’s fizzed cross across the goal line.
Freeman introduced Jack Griffin and switched to a back-five in an attempt to shore things up, but substitute Adam Trotter walloped one past Le Couteur from 30 yards to reduce St Paul’s deficit and Sam Dewhurst’s injury then left them reverting to four defenders.
From 4-2 down St Paul’s – winners of this cup six times since 2010 – looked set to earn extra-time. Luce headed Boyle’s inswinging corner off the line and the pressure was mounting. But a fourth goal eluded them.
Freeman added: ‘Realistically the league is gone now but we’ve still got the Wheway Cup to play against them in a couple of weeks. What a game that’s going to be.’
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