Budleigh Salterton 2 Sidmouth Town 3
Morrison Bell Cup Final (at Ottery St Mary FC)
Three goals in a remarkable opening six minutes proved just enough to earn Sidmouth Town their 13th triumph in the 98-year-old Morrison Bell Cup final at Ottery St Mary’s Washbrook Meadows Ground on Tuesday evening.
Budleigh Salterton came in to the game as slight favourites having defeated Sidmouth in both of their meetings in the South West Peninsula League Division One (East) where they finished fourth to their opponents’ 12th.
But end of season cup finals can be strange affairs, and so it proved as the managerless Vikings pillaged three goals before anybody had broken sweat.
The opener came in the second minute when a neat build up between Tyler Wellman and full back Tony Cox allowed Hungarian Ferenc Bodor the time to cut in off his left flank and launch a thumping drive that clipped the head of Budleigh player-manager Kevin Hill and gave keeper Alan Doble no chance.
The lead was doubled three minutes later when Cox was tripped and then stepped up to curl in a free kick that was met by a superb diving header from his skipper Jason Newbury.
Budleigh, the most successful club in the cup’s history with 21 wins, were dazed, and it got worse just 60 seconds later when centre forward Rob Knight seized on some hesitancy just outside the penalty area and shot low past Doble.
The Robins tried to rally. Dan Boere had a tame volley gathered comfortably by Sidmouth keeper Rob Powell and they then had strong claims for a penalty after a challenge on the impressive Aaron Denny waved away by referee Nick Chapman.
They went close in the 40th minute when a Denny corner was met well by Hill but his header was blocked on the line and Sidmouth carried their three-goal cushion into the half time interval.
There was a bizarre moment five minutes after the break when referee Chapman showed Budleigh striker Jordan Harris a yellow card for dissent and ushered him off the sin bin for 10 minutes. Budleigh protested that the ‘bin’ wasn’t applied to the competition and it took the intervention of a cup official to clear things up and Harris was allowed to return after four minutes off the field.
The Robins swooped to cut the arrears on the hour when Denny collected a pass through the centre of the Vikings back line and gracefully rounded Powell and rolled the ball into the net.
There was a flash point soon after when Hill appeared to raise an arm at Sidmouth centre back Matt Clenahan at a free kick and was fortunate to escape with a warning. The former Torquay United man then went desperately close with a header that struck the crossbar.
Sidmouth looked to relieve the growing pressure and Wellman forced a couple of decent saves down low by Doble at the other end.
But it was Budleigh who struck again in the 77th minute. The Sidmouth backline had done well to throw their bodies in the line of two goal bound shots before the ball came back to Harris who swept it low into the corner to join Denny on 24 goals for the season.
The comeback looked to be completed deep into the 10+ minutes of added time when the ball fell invitingly to Mark Lever but his sweetly struck volley was well held by Powell and the Vikings had their win.
Youngster Louis Spalding got the officials Man of the Match award but their were also fine individual performances from Denny, Wellman and Clenahan while Powell was in fine form between the sticks.