Cornwall FA’s flagship competition, the Senior Cup, reached a thrilling conclusion on Easter Monday. The 2022/23 final, hosted by AFC St Blazey at Blaise Park, saw Helston Athletic face Millbrook AFC in an intriguing matchup. Helston last lifted the trophy in 1936/37 while Millbrook had reached two previous finals but came up just short on both occasions.
647 spectators showed up to support the two sides and they were treated to a fantastic clash in the sunshine – with just the occasional spell of rain. Helston got off to the best possible start, taking an early lead in just the 6th minute. Former Millbrook man Rikki Shepherd gave the defence the slip and, bearing down on goal, looped the ball over the goalkeeper’s head and into the back of the net.
Despite the early setback, Millbrook kept their composure and steadily grew into the game. A period of sustained pressure saw them pepper the Blues’ defence with crosses from both flanks. Their efforts went without reward, though, and the half ended with Helston still a goal to the good.
The second half of the final got underway and the Brook soon had a deserved equaliser. A free-kick out on the right flank caused chaos in the Helston penalty area and it was Ben Goulty who got on the end of the cross to level the scores (66’). 1-1, and now both clubs went hunting for the winner.
An end-to-end contest saw chances for both teams, the best of which saw Helston fail to convert a teasing ball at the back stick. Another Helston opportunity came via a direct free-kick in the dying stages but the effort was saved fairly comfortably by the Millbrook goalkeeper. With that, the final whistle blew and the game headed into extra time.
The first 15 minutes came and went with plenty of endeavour from both sides, but little in the way of goalmouth action. Drama ensued in the second half of extra time, though, with two goals in the space of three minutes. First, Helston midfielder Tom Payne stooped low to give his side the lead with a close-range header (106’). Just as it looked as if the Blues had one hand on the trophy, Millbrook responded in lightning-quick fashion. Immediately from the kick-off, they earned a corner and Ed Goodman was on hand to provide the finishing touch (109’). Millbrook were level at 2-2 with both of their goals coming via the dead ball!
There was to be no late twist and so with that, the final headed for penalties. Helston held their nerve from the spot, scoring a perfect five out of five penalties. Goalkeeper Mike Searle was the hero, giving his side an advantage that they never relinquished by making a fantastic diving stop to his left to keep out Millbrook’s first penalty.
Full-time: Helston Athletic 2-2 Millbrook AFC (Helston win 5-3 on penalties)
For Helston, it was a fantastic occasion as they tasted Senior Cup glory for the first time in 86 years. Cornwall FA congratulates them on the achievement and on a fine season for the club. Our commiserations go to Millbrook AFC, cruelly denied on penalties but who will surely look back on the final as a fantastic achievement that caps the brilliant work done at the club in recent years – long may it continue.
We hope that everyone in attendance enjoyed the match and we thank you for your continued support of Cornish grassroots football. A massive thank you as well to the the match officials and to AFC St Blazey for hosting the final. Finally, we are grateful to all of the club’s volunteers for making it an occasion to remember!