Revenge of sorts for Saints in Vase


Manager Lee Knibbs was full of praise for his side’s fighting spirit as Saints overcame a two-goal deficit to beat Continental Star and move into the first round proper of the FA Carlsberg Vase, writes David Hucker.

Saints were pipped by Star to last season’s Athium Midland Combination championship and this was never going to be an easy task. Trailing by two goals at the interval, they looked dead and buried but responded to Knibb’s calls in the best possible way.

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“It was a typical cup tie and the whole team showed a lot of character to come back and beat the side that denied them the title last time,” said Knibbs.

“We got punished for our mistakes in the first half, but finished the stronger side and deserved the win.”

Knibbs had to juggle his defence, being without the suspended Marc Passey and the unavailable Chris Haydon, as well as having lost Martin Hutchcox to Woodford United during the week.

Brad Rees dropped back from midfield and, after a slow start, put in a man-of-the match performance.

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Not for the first time this season, Saints fell behind to an early goal when, after just three minutes, a long ball over the top beat their defence and, with keeper Ollie Manuel failing to gather, Ibrahim Benjamin tapped in to an empty net.

Star scored a second in the 23rd, beating the offside trap for another simple goal and were well in command at the break.

Josh Cole nodded home a 65th-minute free-kick to bring Saints back into the match and five minutes later they were level, Simeon Smith powerfully despatching Rees’ cross.

Smith went close again shortly after and the match turned in the 81st minute when Natty Brown received a straight red for handling on the line and Craig Watkin put away his fourth spot-kick of the season.

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Saints made it 4-2 when Smith got the better of his marker and laid the ball off to Lee Thomas to pick his spot.

The scoring was not over as Star got a third in stoppage time, but Saints maintained their good recent run to make it four wins in a row in all competitions.

They now face a trip to Hereford-based Pegasus Juniors on Saturday October 13.

Tomorrow, Saints return to league action at Lichfield City.