Super sub Cairns fires Edgehill Reserves to dramatic League Trophy success

Edgehill Reserves celebrate after winning the League Trophy at Mill Lane
Edgehill Reserves celebrate after winning the League Trophy at Mill Lane

It was very much a case of smash and grab for Edgehill Reserves, who battled back from 3-1 down and seemingly dead and buried to lift the League Trophy in dramatic circumstances.

Division Three newcomers Goal Sports made all the early running and were good value for their 1-0 lead, George Friend capitalising on an error by Edgehill keeper George Allen before tapping into an empty net just five minutes in.

Goal Sports were enjoying most of the possession and working themselves into some nice areas, with Edgehill too keen to go direct and proving wasteful when they did win the ball back.

They could've been level after 25 minutes though, Matty Burling heading past keeper Tom Peacock from player-boss Martyn Ferrey's free-kick, only to have his celebrations cut short by the linesman's flag.

Parity was soon to be restored though as Lee Dennis found a yard of space in the Goal Sports box and fired into the roof of the net, although Peacock got a good hand on the strike and would've been disappointed not to keep it out.

A chance came and went for Tom Scales to sneak Edgehill in front just before the interval and the sides headed in at the break locked at 1-1, despite Goal Sports enjoying the brighter of the opening exchanges.

Another goalkeeping error was almost punished after the break, this time Goal Sports stopper Peacock spilling a regulation cross to the feet of Benny Davis, who fired high over the bar when he really should've put his side ahead.

The contest was now becoming stretched as both sides threw men forward in search of the key goal and Edgehill almost had it when Dennis' long-range strike came back off the bar, the ball fell to Scales, who could only skew his effort wide.

Edgehill veteran Matty Burling was shown a yellow card after crudely bringing down a Goal Sports man, and from the free-kick Allen spilled another tame effort, but was relieved to see no opposition player had gambled.

Allen didn't have to wait long to atone for his earlier errors though, as he produced a stunning left-handed stop to prevent Friend from making it 2-1.

Goal Sports edged back in front in scrappy circumstances when Dan Pickard swiped the ball in after a melee following a corner and moments later Ferrey was shown a yellow card for a wild challenge as Edgehill started to lose their heads somewhat.

That was evident yet again as Allen was this time punished for spilling a regulation Plumpton free-kick through his legs and Friend was on hand to tap into the empty net to seemingly kill the game off at 3-1.

Goal Sports then had a further chance to bury Edgehill, this time Kieran Friett watching in agony as his volley flew only inches wide of nestling in the top corner.

Ferrey used up all his subs and introduced striker Jon Cairns and young winger Josh Wallace, and the front man didn't need long to make his mark on proceedings.

A glorious raking pass from Ferrey found Dennis, who squared superbly to Cairns, who made no mistake in firing in from close range to make it 3-2 with 15 minutes left on the clock.

Friett and Niall Prentice both had good chances to create more daylight between the sides, but Goal Sports were punished for their wastefulness in front of goal when Edgehill levelled in somewhat fortuitous fashion.

Dennis strode down the right flank and his cross flew straight over Peacock and into the far top corner to level matters up after 80 minutes.

Plumpton received a yellow after halting an Edgehill foray into his side's half and it looked like the game was heading to extra-time as the clock ticked past the 90-minute mark and into stoppage time.

But two of Edgehill's subs had other ideas and after Wallace out-stripped his marker down the right flank, he calmly squared to the waiting Cairns, who timed his run to perfection and slammed the inch-perfect centre into the net to send the Edgehill players and supporters into raptures and hand them a 4-3 win that looked unlikely only 15 minutes earlier.

Ferrey paid tribute to his young side after they collected the first silverware of the 2015/16 season. He said: "Credit to the lads as we didn't play that well tonight, but we stuck at it and battled back to win the game.

"I don't care about playing well, we wanted it more and we battled back and won it."

Ferrey singled out two-goal hero Cairns, Dennis and youngsters Allen and Davis as his side's star men, but was quick to praise the attitude of his entire side.

He added: "Credit to George (Allen), a lot of keepers would've crumbled there and he said he wanted to come off after the second mistake, but he stuck at it and made a couple of good saves for us.

"I probably shouldn't have dropped Jon (Cairns), he's my top-scorer this year and he came on and showed why, absolutely superb."

A devastated Goal Sports boss Plumpton is hoping his side will learn crucial lessons from their defeat. He said: "I thought we were the better side, but we kept going forward and were maybe a bit naive, maybe that was my fault and we should've sat back and killed the game off.

"If we want to get promoted, we'll be playing teams like these next year, so we'll need to improve, but I thought we played very well tonight."