Devon FA 1 v 3 Cornwall FA
Played at Devon County FA Headquarters, Coach Road, Newton Abbot, 16.02.2019
Despite a frantic last ten minutes in which Devon saw a penalty saved and pulled a goal back through Bailey Williams (Bere Alston Utd), first half goals from Ben O’Connor (Wadebridge Town) and Mason Long (Saltash Utd) plus a second half clincher from captain Harrison Jewell (Helston Athletic) meant that Cornwall deservedly took the spoils on a difficult Coach Road pitch.
Following a frantic opening during which Devon forced 3 corners in quick succession, all of which came to naught, it was Cornwall who took an early lead as, in the 5th minute, O’ Connor picked up a loose ball wide on the right, ran unchallenged into the Devon penalty area and placed a 15 yard shot across Devon’s keeper Bart Zarzychi (Tavistock AFC) into the far corner.
Two more opportunities fell to Cornwall as Devon struggled to clear their lines, Alex Wharton (Helston Athletic) and Alfie Flack (Helston Athletic) both missing the target when well placed. They were almost made to pay for those misses as, in the 12th minute, yet another Devon corner found its way to the far post where Jack Rhead (Plymouth Parkway) saw his shot from close in well saved by Ethan Elwell (Sticker).
The game was becoming a battle for midfield supremacy with very little being created by either side until two minutes before half time when Devon’s Mani Skett (Ashburton AFC) was set free to race towards the Cornwall penalty area where Elwell managed to get a touch to his goal-bound effort allowing Long to get back and clear. That touch was to prove costly for Devon as Cornwall broke out and gained a free kick wide on the left which was chipped towards the far post where Zarzychi missed with his attempt to punch the ball clear and Long, who had come up from the back headed home.
So, Devon went in at half time two goals down when they felt they should at least have been on level terms.
Five minutes into the second period Cornwall should have made the game safe but George Tucker (Bodmin Town) sliced his shot wide when put through by Cornish. Devon then started to get on top but that elusive goal would not come. First, in the 53rd minute, Morgan Cullen (Newton FC) fired a 22-yard free kick around the Cornwall wall into the waiting arms of Elwell and, 10 minutes later, just missed the target with a free kick from right on the edge of the box.
Devon kept pressing forward but were leaving gaps at the back and it almost cost them dear as in the 63rd minute Cornish raced clear but in trying to chip Zarzychi placed his shot over the bar.
Five minutes later Devon had a great chance to pull a goal back when a cross from Cullen found Williams unmarked in the middle of Elwell’s goal, but he couldn’t keep his header down and the chance was lost.
In the 78th minute Cornish got his team’s third goal, pouncing on a loose ball to fire home from just inside the box to make the game safe.
The Devon team were not about to lie down and in the last ten minutes were denied by Elwell diving to his right to save Morgan Cullen’s penalty. That was followed by an almighty mix up between Elwell and Long from which Bailey tapped home what proved to be only a consolation goal as, in the last minute, Elwell kept out a tremendous 22-yard free kick powered in by Ash Mitchell (Cullompton Rangers) to ensure that Cornwall’s two goal margin remained as the final whistle blew.
Player of the Match – Kai Cornish (Cornwall)