FA Vase: St Blazey v Ilfracombe match report
ST BLAZEY manager Bobby Oaten spoke of his pride after watching his new look team produce one of the FA Carlsberg Vase scalps of the day at the weekend.
Supporters have not had much to smile about this season, with just one league win in four attempts.
But after 120 minutes of end to end football and the hardest of hard fought victories against Western League premier division opposition, fans cheered as if they had just won the Vase at Wembley on Saturday.
What this victory signalled more than anything is that St Blazey, after a difficult few months, are on the up.
Yet again Oaten has worked his magic in plucking players from out of nowhere and giving them the platform to show their qualities. None more so than midfielder Tornado Bello.
The Nigerian, a student in Plymouth, approached St Blazey after watching them at Saltash United last month. And he looked every bit the part on his debut on Saturday, as Ilfracombe felt the full force of Tornado's physicality and work rate until injury curtailed his afternoon just 38 minutes into the first qualifying round tie.
Oaten also handed full debuts to James Greet, signed from Falmouth and defender Phil Hobbs.
There was also a first outing for Lewis Prince, signed just days earlier from Sticker, as the midfielder was given an early introduction after replacing Bello in the first half.
Substitute Josh Sims had sent the tie into extra time with a wonderful 84th minute equaliser.
And it was an own goal from Town substitute Liam Craze which booked Blazey their place in the next round of the national competition, where they will travel to Plymouth Parkway on September 21.
Oaten said: "I am proud of the boys, especially with four players making their debuts today.
"Any manager will tell you that it takes time for new players to bed in but I thought they all came in and did very well for us today."
Despite playing at a higher level, in the Western League premier division, Ilfracombe did little to impress Oaten. He said: "I didn't think Ilfracombe were anything special and a lot of their football was route one.
"I think in the end we got what we deserved, and I don't think Ilfracombe can have any complaints."
St Blazey were indebted to goalkeeper Dave Painter for keeping them in the tie as he pulled off a number of crucial saves over the 120 minutes.
But there was little he could do about Town's opener, after first blocking with his legs to deny Stan Paxton, the striker followed up with a low finish into the bottom corner.
Before then it was Bello who stood. Keen to impress on his debut, the midfielder strode from box to box and in the time he was given he never wasted a pass.
But Bello's commitment got the better of him on the half hour mark when he landed awkwardly after going up for a header with Town midfielder Josh Heafield.
Bello lasted another eight minutes before he finally left the field holding his right shoulder.
The remaining minutes of the half offered little in the way of chances as the tie threatened to boil over as Mamsy Sabo and Martin Sleeman went into referee Jamie Macleod's book for hefty challenges.
There was no lack of commitment after the break either, before Danny Zalick brought St Blazey level in the 72nd. The ball hadn't even crossed the line when Zalick turned away to celebrate with his team-mates after lobbing Town goalkeeper Kurtis Parkin.
But straight from the restart Ilfracombe were back in front when Paxton grabbed his second goal of the game when he smashed the ball into the top corner.
St Blazey fought back again and Sims' brilliant left footed drive six minutes from time sent the game into extra time.
And with 104 minutes on the clock Jordan Greatrex beat his man down the right before crossing and Craze's attempts to clear at the near post saw him turn the ball past his own keeper to seal a memorable win for Oaten's men.