Liam’s late header sends St Blazey into League Cup final

Liam Eddy’s late header sent St Blazey into the final of the Walter C Parson League Cup as the Green and Blacks earned a 2-1 victory over Ivybridge Town on Wednesday night, writes Matt Friday.

CJ Pritchard opened the scoring for the Ivies in the 13th minute at Liskeard Athletic’s Lux Park when his attempted cross crept inside the far post, with Eddy rifling home the equaliser for Phil Lafferty’s men shortly after the half-hour mark.

With the tie seemingly destined for extra time, Eddy rose highest in the first minute of stoppage time to nod home from Kyle Marks’ corner and clinch victory at the death.

St Blazey will now face Torpoint Athletic, who triumphed 5-0 against Elburton Villa in the other semi-final, in the showpiece match at Launceston AFC on Saturday, May 7.

A cagey opening ten minutes in east Cornwall suddenly burst into life in the 12th minute when Ivies frontman Pritchard controlled a throw with his chest on the edge of the box before volleying it against the base of St Blazey custodian Jason Chapman’s right post.

The Devon outfit, who lie sixth in the South West Peninsula League Premier East, went one better a minute later when Pritchard, looking to become the provider, saw his left-wing cross loop over Chapman’s head and inside the far post.

Still reeling from that opening goal, Lafferty’s men could have been two goals down barely two minutes later when a lofted pass found its way to Fletcher Williams, but Chapman was quick out of the blocks to relieve the danger.

The Ivies continued to pressure the Cornish side but were almost caught out at the other end when Callum McGhee fired wide from Jed Smale’s cross, before Chapman was called upon again to make a vital stop from Callum Merrin, who had found himself in plenty of space on the edge of the box.

Despite having been second best so far, St Blazey were back on level terms in the 33rd minute. Isaac Burdon’s diagonal ball found the in-form Eddy in the box, who, with his back to goal, quickly turned and rifled the ball into the far corner for his 17th goal in his last ten games.

Seeking a response before the break, Jacob Bowker soon dragged a shot wide for the Devonians, who then had goalkeeper Kane Gregory to thank for keeping the score level when he stood his ground to deny Eddy in a one-on-one.

Having started the slower of the two sides, it was St Blazey who were quickest to settle in the second half, with Jordan Dingle and Callum Kenny coming close from McGhee deliveries while Martin Giles nodded wide from Will Tinsley’s throw.

Ivybridge were still very much a threat and passed up a big chance to restore their advantage when Merrin, in acres of space in the St Blazey box, nodded wide from Williams’ cross.

Both sides saw penalty shouts fall on deaf ears as the clock ticked past the hour, with Merrin going down under Olly Brokenshire’s challenge at one end before Eddy hit the turf in a tangle with Mitch Williams at the other.

Hearts were in St Blazey mouths in the 73rd minute when Chapman’s clearance was charged down by Merrin before the pair collided in a battle for the loose ball, but the experienced gloveman was able to scramble it to safety.

With time beginning to run out, Jed Smale almost grabbed victory for the Green and Blacks in the same way their opponents had taken the lead, with the winger’s cross from the right flank dropping a matter of inches past the far post with Gregory stranded.

But just as the clock ticked into stoppage time, the decisive moment arrived. Marks, on as a late replacement for Owen Rosevear, whipped in the ball from a corner and Eddy rose highest to send an unstoppable header past Gregory before wheeling away in delight.

With Ivybridge committing men forward as they desperately sought an equaliser, the forward was presented the chance to complete his hat-trick when he broke free and tried to round Gregory, but the goalkeeper did well to smother the ball.

It would prove to be immaterial as Lafferty’s side saw out the final moments to reach the Walter C Parson League Cup final for the first time since 2011.

Ivybridge: K Gregory, C Collings (A Henniker 81), L Forward, C Merrin, S Pocock, M Williams, J Bowker, J Smelt, C Pritchard, F Williams, L Dickson. Subs (unused): R Henniker, H Tomlinson, K Burrell, L Fletcher.

St Blazey: J Chapman, W Tinsley, I Burdon, J Dingle, O Rosevear (K Marks 85), M Giles, J Smale, O Brokenshire, L Eddy, C Kenny, C McGhee. Subs (unused): K Friendship, A Williams, R Ward, H Gregory.

[Featured image: Matt Friday / Cornwall Sports Media]

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