A stunning second half fight back led by quicksilver Tristan Plummer gave Weston-super-Mare the Premier Cup at Frome Town’s Badgers Hill ground on Tuesday evening after the National League South side looked dead and buried at half-time writes Kerry Miller.
It was hard to take for Southern League West Paulton who have endured a long and difficult season and were looking good for only their second ever success in the competition which they won for the only time to date in 2013. Weston had lost a number of squad players who had re-joined their parent clubs after lone spells, had gone on holiday or were injured and for the first 45 minutes only played in short periods while Paulton were in their faces from the start, which added a touch of friction to the proceedings. Referee Dan Flynn needed to be alert as temperatures rose but strangely it took a tenth minute goal from Liam Monelle to settle things down.
By then Shea Bennington-Mannings had missed a free header from a good position for Rovers while at the other end Danny Greenslade had twice tested keeper George Burton but it took defensive lethargy to open the scoring as Monelle chased down two back passes and beat keeper Liam Kingston to a tackle before rolling the ball into an empty net for the lead.
Paulton were dominating the game and Josh Morgan-Williams went on a long run down the middle before being denied by Kingston and it took half an hour for Weston to look interested until Jarrad Welch squared for the unmarked Jake Lee to put the ball into the car park behind the clubhouse for what could have been a significant miss.
Plummer was showing signs of being interested and was wide with a falling volley then hit a post when his shot took a deflection but Paulton came roaring back and Jack Ball brought a stunning flying save from Kingston, who was not to know he was offside. Five minutes from the break Paulton deservedly made it 2-0 as a free-kick in the corner bounced kindly for Monelle who nodded over a stranded Kingston to the delight of the bench and Rovers’ fans in the healthy attendance.
Ball almost made it 3-0 late on with a cross shot which went wide then Welch had two efforts just before the break which came to nothing.
What had been largely one way traffic in the first half changed dramatically on the restart as Weston upped the pace two fold while Paulton looked to run out of steam and as they withdrew deeper Plummer came into his own and would ultimately win the cup, although not without cost as his flamboyant celebration of his late winner brought a second yellow card and a dismissal.
Weston took control and after James Byrne had shot wide Welch wriggled into the area and was brought down by Joe Hillard just past the hour mark, and Lee halved the deficit and was game on.
Welch and Plummer were causing no end of problems and after the former had gone close, another training ground move from a corner left him free and he slammed in the equaliser with ten minutes left.
With extra-time looming and Rovers hanging on with two minutes of injury time played, Plummer went on a run and cut in before un leashing an unstoppable curling drive into the top corner to win the game. The removal of his shirt was enough to bring a second yellow and it was largely confirmed when he ripped off a second undershirt and the red card was a formality.
Paulton’s Liam Monelle was made player of the match for his first half double and fine all round performance to bring down the lid on both club’s seasons after what has been a trying campaign made worst by the appalling weather which has finally abated, albeit far too late.
took a 10 minute lead as Jason Pope's underhit back pass was chased down by Liam Monelle who won a tackle with Weston keeper Liam Kingston and rolled the ball into the net.
Match report to follow