Watching their team walk in at half time, trailing 2 – 0, Weston fans may have been forgiven for thinking that their chances of securing the cup were slipping away, yet the Seagulls players hadn’t given up fighting, and in an impressive turnaround, on a less than suitable pitch for their style of play, Weston scored three times in 25 minutes to take the trophy back to the Woodspring.
Jake Lee’s header from a Shaquille Hunter cross was easily gathered into the arms of Paulton Rovers goalkeeper George Burton. Weston then had legitimate appeals for a penalty waved away by the referee. Jack Goodall raced onto a loose ball inside the area and despite being seemingly tripped inside the box, the referee hesitantly waved play on, and from the resulting scramble, Danny Greenslade could only fire over the bar.
Paulton took the lead only a few moments later. Former Seagulls loanee Liam Monelle charged down two clearances, and was able to round Weston keeper Liam Kingston before simply rolling over the line to give Rovers the advantage.
A half-volley from Tristan Plummer following a lovely passing move by Weston saw his shot on goal lack power and was easy pickings for Burton, before George Morris-Edwards blocked a Josh Morgan-Williamson shot on the counter as he charged into the area at the other end.
Jarrad Welch’s low cross towards Lee, who was in a good position just inside the box, was fired over the top by Weston’s No.9, with Plummer bringing down a clipped Goodall cross to acrobatically volley wide from the edge of the area just minutes later.
Weston continued in their search of an equaliser, but once Plummer had done the hard work of weaving around three defenders in a tight space, his shot rebounded back off the post after taking a nick off the foot of a resolute Paulton defender.
Paulton were to extend their advantage however, when a free-kick from the left was punched into the ground by Kingston, a rare mistake from the young keeper who had played heroically in the previous tie against Bath City. Bouncing up perfectly, Monelle looped his header over Kingston and into the net to see Paulton double their lead to 2 – 0.
After the interval, and after a motivating team talk from Manager Marc McGregor, Weston came out with more fight about them. Jake Lee headed wide from a looping Greenslade cross and then Plummer also went close but after cutting in from the left, his dipping effort again went narrowly wide.
Weston were to pull one back however when a ball in behind opened the door for Welch. The 19 year-old was brought down by Jack Ball in the box, the referee immediately pointing to the spot, but Ball avoided a booking despite the protestations from the Weston players. Stepping up was Seagull utilitarian Jake Lee, calmly converting the penalty to give Weston a foothold back in to the match.
Plummer had the beating of full-back Joe Hillard all night long, and once again after skinning his man, the winger pulled back for Welch, who on the half-turn put his shot over the bar. Goodall also went close when after pushing his way in to the box to get on the end of a loose ball, his toe-poke was saved by the feet of Burton.
Undeterred they maintained their pressure and Weston grabbed their second when Greenslade’s corner delivery saw Welch connect, hammering the ball into the roof of the net to draw level, and with the momentum built, Weston’s sights were firmly set on finding the winning goal, with the play seemingly largely one way traffic.
That winner was to come in injury time, when after multiple amounts of pressure from Weston, Welch’s cross into the area was cut out. Retrieving the ball, the Welshman laid it back to Plummer on the edge of the area, who dropped his shoulder to dummy Hillard and then arrowed the ball into the top corner at Burton’s near post to spark manic celebrations, both in the stands and on the pitch, with the goalscorer receiving his marching orders for removing his shirt whilst already on a yellow card.
Weston held on for the final few minutes to see out the win, and to get their hands on the Somerset Cup for the first time since 2012. Jacob Cane triumphantly held the trophy aloft to the delight of the onlooking Weston faithful as Marc McGregor won his first piece of silverware in his debutant season in charge.
FT: Paulton 2 – 3 Weston (Monelle 8, 40 – Lee pen 64, Welch 91, Plummer 90+2)
Weston XI: Kingston, Goodall, Greenslade, Cane (C), Pope, Morris-Edwards, Hunter (Llewellyn 74), Diallo, Lee, Plummer, Welch. Unused substitutes: Hill, Purnell.
MOTM: Jarrad Welch – Welchy had a huge impact on the scoreline in this contest, winning the penalty for the first, scoring the equaliser, and then getting the assist for the winner. Could be an important player for the Seagulls next season.