ASRS Cup Semi Final
Vale United 3-2 St Athan
St Athan’s forty year wait to once again win the ASRS Cup goes on as they were cruelly edged out by the undefeated juggernaut Vale United.
Top scorer Josh Morgan twice scored for Saints, first to put them in front early on and then to pull one back to set up a tense finale in a full blooded semi final.
Both teams started brightly and Gareth Richards in Saints goal saved a shot at his near post before Karl Steel tested the Vale keeper with a stinging effort.
Steel continued his bright start as his industry created a long range effort for Tony Charles but the keeper held well.
Both sides looked to get at each other and again both keepers were forced into straightforward saves but no breakthrough was forthcoming.
Vale, with a 100% record in the league this season, had come out on top of the last two encounters between the sides but this fuelled Saints.
The game was fierce but St Athan were forcing Vale onto the back foot with some great intensity.
Finally Saints took a deserved lead. A free kick was won a few yards into the Vale half on the right, Reece Lewis whipped the ball into the box, a slight deflection taking into the path of Morgan, whose touch and control was second to none, to volley St Athan in front on twenty minutes.
St Athan were in the ascendancy and had their opponents on the ropes, then a moment of controversy. Lewis sent in a corner, Jordan Mortimore rose to connect with a header. The ball crossing the line before being cleared away. Saints players celebrated but the referee was unsighted and did not allow the goal much to St Athan’s frustration.
Five minutes later, Vale United picked themselves up from the canvas to land a body blow of their own that took the wind out of St Athan’s sails. Dan Hanson picked the ball up on the right and skipped past two defenders before seeing his shot take a slight deflection to beat the keeper and Vale were level.
Saints were dazed by the events and Vale looked for a flurry of offence, excellent work down the left teed up the United forward but a combination of Richards excellent save and Nicky Cox’s chest denied a certain goal.
A breathless first half saw the teams go in level, Saints controlling the first 25 minutes but Vale responded to be on the front foot at the break.
Vale came out of the gates swinging in the second half and then a cruel way to concede came Saints way.
A ball forward was intercepted by Mortimore who passed back to Richards, but a slight and cruel slip by the excellent keeper, saw him miss the ball and it roll into the net. A pitch that saw many players slip during the game, came to haunt Saints. Vale had the lead.
Vale now had their tails well and truly up and capitalised to further their lead. Alex Gregory got in behind the St Athan defence on the right and ghosted inside to curl and effort in to make it three. Vale could taste the final.
Vale kept coming and Saints needed a fine stop by Richards to deny them a fourth.
St Athan regrouped and changed shape. It paid dividends as Saints found themselves back in the game. Richards ball forward was flicked on by Mortimore for Morgan to race away and finish with aplomb.
Saints plugged away looking for an equaliser and Mortimore headed a Lewis corner against the post as they so nearly levelled.
With Saints pushing to level, Vale looked to counter attack. An adjusted back pass saw Vale blaze the resulting free kick well over.
St Athan piled on the pressure in the final moments but Vale held firm and made it to their fourth final in three years since their inception and the treble looks on.
St Athan gave their all and can feel aggrieved not have made the final themselves after a terrific clash between these two sides.
Vale United will now play Cowbridge Town, who advanced past Rhoose after a penalty shoot out. The final will be on 30th April at Jenner Park.
St Athan: Richards, Humphreys, Cox, Mortimore, Garrison, Laing, Lewis, Charles, Steel, Young, Morgan. Subs. Pugh, Ashton, Ball.
We’d like to thank our sponsors Owens Motor Services, Llandow for their tremendous support of the club. Also many thanks to Diving & Marine Engineering, Llantwit Valet & Car Wash and Kinsale Stone Co (Wales) Ltd.