Cornwall lose Brunel Cup despite beating Devon in finale

Cornwall’s men’s representative team defeated their Devon counterparts 2-1 in the final leg of the Brunel Cup on Wednesday night, although it wasn’t enough to clinch the overall series win, writes Matt Friday.

Needing a victory to level the six-game series at 3-3, Cornwall duly got the job done at St Blazey’s Blaise Park, but Devon were the ones to lift the trophy after triumphing on goal difference across the six matches.

Falmouth Town forward Jack Bray-Evans opened the scoring for Cornwall after ten minutes with a fine individual strike, with the hosts holding onto the lead until Helston Athletic midfielder Steve Colwell’s free-kick levelled the scores five minutes into the second half.

Ed Harrison, representing both Camelford and Tavistock, scored what ultimately proved to be the winner on the night from the penalty spot a quarter of an hour from the end, but it would not be enough to lift the Brunel Cup, with the Devon team lifting the trophy on behalf of the county.

Devon started the stronger of the two sides with Exmouth Town’s Levi Landricombe having a couple of early sighters on Ryan Barnes’ goal, nodding over the bar before sending an ambitious volley in the same direction.

But it was Cornwall, led by Glynn Hooper, Phil Lafferty and Andrew Westgarth, who took the lead in the tenth minute courtesy of Bray-Evans. The Falmouth man has been in prolific form this season, scoring 42 goals in all competitions, and he added another to his personal tally in some style, stepping inside from the left and curling the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box.

Saltash United were one of the best-represented clubs with four players among the Cornwall line-up, and that link-up soon began to make an impact, with full-backs Dave Barker and Callum Martindale taking it in turns to set up fellow Ashes man Reece Thomson, who sent both efforts narrowly wide of Aaron Dearing’s goal.

The visitors regained a foothold in the game shortly after with Jesse Howe and Steve Colwell trying their luck from distance before Okehampton Argyle dangerman Luke Mortimore’s fierce strike forced a good save out of Falmouth gloveman Barnes.

Back at the other end, Martindale and Thomson combined again to tee up the fourth Ashes representative, Sam Farrant, whose effort was well held by Dearing, although it was Devon who ended the half on top with Landricombe’s driven effort flashing past the far post.

They retained that momentum after the turnaround and deservedly got themselves level in the 50th minute. The Helston duo of Colwell and Bowker both stood over a free-kick in a central position, and it was the former who took aim, with his low strike taking a small but vital deflection as it flew through the wall before nestling in the bottom corner.

The match fell into a bit of a lull following the equaliser with both sides opting to make several changes, with two of Cornwall’s replacements combining in the 74th minute as Falmouth’s David Broglino sent a wonderful low cross towards Millbrook’s Tom Payne, who turned the ball agonisingly wide at the back post.

That suddenly sparked the game back into life and the decisive moment of the match followed barely a minute later. Wendron United winger Cameron Wheat, fresh from the bench, went down under the challenge of Dearing and referee Rowan Clarke immediately pointed to the spot, with Harrison stepping up to send the Devon stopper the wrong way.

Although they were the ones with a lead to protect, Cornwall looked the likelier of the two sides to add to their tally in the final throes of the game, with Thomson missing the target twice before Broglino’s close-range volley crashed against the upright.

Hearts were in Cornwall mouths late on when Barnstaple man Jake Ramday hit the turf on the very corner of the box next to the byline deep into the five minutes of stoppage time, but Devon appeals fell on deaf ears as Cornwall closed out the game to get one over their Tamar rivals.

Cornwall: R Barnes (Falmouth), D Barker (Saltash), C Martindale (Saltash), C O’Brien (Torpoint), J Ward (Falmouth), J Storey (Helston), S Farrant (Saltash), E Harrison (Camelford/Tavistock), J Bray-Evans (Falmouth), R Thomson (Saltash), R Shepherd (Millbrook). Subs: C Wearing (Millbrook), J Woods (Liskeard), D Broglino (Falmouth), T Payne (Millbrook), C Wheat (Wendron).

Subs: Wheat for Bray-Evans (55m), Broglino for Farrant (57), Woods for Shepherd (62), Payne for Martindale (62), Wearing for Barnes (62).

Devon: A Dearing (Okehampton), H Walford (Wellington), A Tucker (Newton Abbot), D Preece (Alphington), J Skinner (Exwick Villa), S Colwell (Helston), J Miller (Tavistock), J Howe (Elmore), S Bowker (Helston), L Landricombe (Exmouth), L Mortimore (Okehampton). Subs: G Jones (Barnstaple), J Ramday (Teignmouth), L Barner (Falmouth), H Dennis (Barnstaple), C Wright (Barnstaple), D Larter (Barnstaple).

Subs: Barner for Howe (51m), Jones for Skinner (72), Ramday for Bowker (72), Dennis for unknown (72)

[Featured image: Colin Bradbury / Cornwall Sports Media]