Bodmin Town 0, Helston Athletic 0
HELSTON Athletic – the team and their supporters – were a credit to the town on their big day out at the Cornwall Senior Cup final.
And the Blues came very close to taking the county's most prestigious trophy back with them to Kellaway Parc after giving holders Bodmin a mighty scare.
The teams have to do it all again at Truro's Treyew Road on Tuesday April 16 (7.30) but Helston have nothing to fear.
After this goalless draw, Darren Gilbert was bemoaning his Carlsberg South West Peninsula League premier division team's lack of hunger on the big occasion but in truth it was Helston's day.
The division one west side, who went into the final as huge underdogs, started on the front foot, creating a good chance inside the first minute, and ended in confident style despite failing to find the breakthrough they deserved.
The main reason they didn't have one or two goals to show for an excellent performance was Bodmin's vastly experienced goalkeeper Kevin Miller.
The 44-year-old denied Helston's man of the match, striker Liam Eddy, on several occasions when lesser keepers would have been picking the ball out of the net.
Eddy was the star of the show. He ran the Bodmin defence ragged from start to finish, his energy levels more than matching those of his opponents. Indeed he had Bodmin centre half Huw Morgan for pace every time.
His prolific scoring partner, Mark Goldsworthy, had a quieter afternoon but he too was denied a goal by Miller. Helston had impressive performers all over the pitch. Hugh Howlett was given the task of marking Adam Carter, and dealt with him better than most premier division defenders do.
Alongside him, Kirk Davies gave an accomplished performance and it is difficult to recall Chris Luxton having a sniff of a chance in the second half. As for goalkeeper Jason Robertson, he hardly had a save to make.
With more than 200 supporters packed in behind the goal at the clubhouse end of the Saltash ground, Helston were clearly up for the occasion.
They might have had one inside the opening 30 seconds as Eddy burst through unmarked on the left but he sliced his shot wide..
Bodmin's best opportunity came as early as the fourth minute when a Luxton shot looped against the bar, and Carter blasted the rebound high and wide.
Helston responded with two great chances. In the 12th minute Eddy found acres of space along the left and seemed certain to score with a rasping drive from 15 yards but Miller was equal to it with a superb save and Morgan deflected away the rebound.
Two minutes later Eddy was back to terrorise the Bodmin defence again, this time weaving past Lewis Reed and Morgan before firing low towards the corner of the net, only for Miller to turn the ball away. Chris Strike and Tom Russell both found themselves in good scoring positions, but they wanted too much time and were robbed of the ball as they went to shoot.
Howlett made his only slip of the match in the 38th minute which left Carter one-on-one with keeper Robertson. Carter tried a deft chip over him but succeeded only in lifting the ball into the grateful grasp of Robertson.
And Helston were desperately close to breaking the deadlock in time added on at the end of the half as Eddy laid the ball into the path of Goldsworthy but Miller made another stunning close range save.
Clear cut chances were less prevalent in the second half but Eddy continued to be the main threat, while Bodmin strikers Carter and Luxton disappeared from the action for long spells.
The only setback for the Blues came in the 54th minute when manager Sid Taylor was ordered from the dugout to the stand by referee Martin Ault.
Taylor had protested about the latest of several dubious offside calls on the far side of the pitch, leading to an over-reaction from fourth official Luke Maslen.
Maslen set off from his position on the halfway line like Usain Bolt, telling Taylor to shut up. In the heat of the moment the Blues boss responded in similar fashion and Maslen almost dropped his walkie-talkie in trying to grab the referee's attention.
Taylor may have departed Helston's off-field base but his team continued to look the better side.
Brokenshire's almost desperate shot from fully 45 yards in the 66th minute, which flew wide, was a sign that they had run out of ideas.
Even Bodmin's introduction of some pace in the form of Neil Slateford and Sam Matthews failed to worry a Helston side who maintained a high tempo.
It was Helston's day. All that was missing to make it a perfect day was a goal – and the cup to take home on the coach.