Jack Boyle’s distant curling effort would have been a worthy match winner at any level, Premier League ties included, but that offers no consolation to a St Peter side who had held on valiantly for an hour and could well have lifted the Charity Cup themselves. The Muratti captain’s 94th-minute strike obliterated the Reds’ hopes of taking the final to a penalty shootout, which their impressive defensive display certainly deserved.
St Peter forward Charlie Petulla was given marching orders in the 34th minute following a bizarrely-timed challenge on goalkeeper Euan van der Vliet, and Adam Trotter evened the numbers up through a second yellow just 90 seconds before Boyle’s winner.
That’s the way to win football matches,’ said St Paul’s captain Jack Cannon, after his club equalled First Tower United’s Charity Cup record of 18 wins, with one shared.
‘I thought we had a bit more possession and a bit more quality. We missed a couple of good chances but kept knocking on the door.
‘We’re losing some experienced players now, but hopefully we’ll keep going strong with youngsters coming through and win a few more trophies.’
Aside from Petulla’s late slide on van der Vliet – after the shot-stopper had smothered a through-ball yards before his opponent arrived at the scene – the first half offered a limited dose of action. And without exception it was supplied by St Paul’s.
The impetus certainly lay with the league champions but end product was largely lacking. They could still have taken the lead, though, as Kieran Lester hammered against the crossbar after Matt Donaldson’s fumbled corner, and Declan O’Connell had a soft nudge towards goal cleared off the line by Sean Lambert.
After the break the woodwork at either end appeared busier than the two goalkeepers. Harry Cardwell’s wide free-kick across the face of goal eluded all but van der Vliet’s left-hand post, and both Boyle and Trotter were denied at the other end, also from range.
Boyle remained persistent, and his reward came as the Springfield crowd braced themselves for spot-kicks. Taking control following a throw on the left-flank, the 2017/18 JEP Golden Boot joint-winner shimmied inwards before curling around the defence with his right boot from 25 yards. Donaldson had little to no chance.
St Peter 0,
St Paul’s 1
St Peter: Matt Donaldson, Jordan Preston (Jake Baker 61, Y), Sam Luce, Luke Campbell, Clayton Romeril, Sean Lambert, Calvin Weir (Y), Harry Cardwell, Charlie Petulla (R), Jake Prince (Ryan Marcinko 79), Neil Crowell (James Carr 68). Unused: Elliot Poole, Ryan Le Couteur.
St Paul’s: Euan van der Vliet, Michael Weir, Fraser Barlow, Jack Cannon, Harry Curtis, Declan O’Connell, Jack Boyle, Joe Kilshaw (Sam Masefield 74), Adam Trotter (YYR), Kieran Lester (Y; Jay Giles 87), Craig Russell. Unused: Adam Lester, Shay Miley, Jake Laurendeau.