Saints knocked out in NFA Minor Cup thriller

Willington Quay Saints scorer Glen Johnson celebrates with the sidelines after his goal.
Willington Quay Saints scorer Glen Johnson celebrates with the sidelines after his goal.

Red Row prevailed in a pulsating NFA Minor Cup tie as a Kevin Bell goal early in extra time finally saw off the challenge of the Willington Quay Saints who had earlier fought back twice in a game of high drama.

Quay made one change from the previous week’s win with new signing Michael Turner in for John Foggett at left back as they returned to the scene of a famous win in 2007 when Trevor Ford’s long range screamer settled a Minor Cup semi-final in Saints’ favour.

The game started in windy conditions with both teams struggling to play good football on a poor pitch, and in a scrappy start to the game both teams had players booked for tripping opponents - Turner the man booked for Saints.

The first effort of the game saw a long range effort from Ryan Ferrier drift wide as Quay made a solid enough start with Ben Senior looking lively up front and Matty Adams dominating in midfield.

Red Row also looked lively and they nearly grabbed the opener as their centre half headed wide from a dangerous free kick into the box as the home side began to get a foothold in the game.

On the half hour mark Red Row took the lead as Bell pounced on hestitation from Saints defender Dale Johnson and raced through one-on-one to clip the ball over Carl McGuire to put his side ahead.

That lead was short-lived as Saints levelled the game just before the break as Stephen Kings’ inch perfect cross was headed home by Andy Breheny, who grabbed his fourth of the season and sent the teams into half-time all square.

Shooting with the wind in their favour second half, Quay began to dominate, but they struggled to create any clear cut chances with Welfare restricting them to long range efforts, one from Turner which flew wide and a better one from Ferrier that was spectacularly tipped over by the keeper.

Finding it hard to break the Red Row defence down, Quay brought on Liam Taylor for Gary Latimer to try and create some openings.

Both Senior and Breheny found space in the box but could not get a shot away as Welfare stood firm time after time.

Unable to grab a second, Saints began to lose their grip on the game as Red Row started to look dangerous, and they almost went ahead as winger Shaun Black’s shot was well saved by Mcguire.

With ten minutes left Welfare grabbed a precious lead. A long diagonal ball found their winger at the back post and his scuffed cross-shot was neatly tucked away by substitute Baston, who reacted quickest to turn the ball home before running to celebrate with the delighted home fans.

Saints manager Pete Donkin immediately threw on top scorer Glen Johnson for King as he looked for another equaliser with time running out. The move paid off with just two minutes remaining.

Ryan Ferrier launched a free kick into the Welfare area and when the keeper did not connect properly with his punch the ball fell to Johnson who took a touch before firing into the bottom corner, sparking wild scenes of celebration from the players and away fans alike.

The game went into extra time without anymore drama and both teams were glad for a breather after the frantic finale.

Club captain Mark Henderson made his return from injury coming on for Senior at the start of the first extra period as Quay looked to build on the momentum of their late leveller.

But that momentum was short-lived as a shot on the turn from Bell squirmed under the diving McGuire and into the net to give Welfare the advantage for the third time in the game halfway through the first half of extra time.

Saints looked tired and were struggling to respond to going behind. Red Row passed up two glorious chances to seal the game as Bell could not connect with the goal at his mercy and then firing straight at McGuire from 12 yards.

Quay needed another late goal but were denied when Ferrier’s shot was neatly saved at the front post after he was found by Taylor.

And when Matty Adams’ shot went wide time was up on Saints’ cup run as Red Row got revenge for that 2007 semi-final defeat.

An entertaining game on a terrible pitch, Saints will kick themselves for not scoring during their second half dominance, but Red Row were the better side in extra time and go into the hat for the next round.

Saints. McGuire, S Duffield, Turner, Clynch, D Johnson, Latimer (Taylor 75), King (G Johnson 82), Adams, Ferrier, Breheny, Senior (M Henderson 91).