Trafalgar produced a near perfect performance to comfortably win an ill-tempered and often volatile NRCFA Sunday County Cup final against a physical Thornaby Meerkats side at Stokesley tonight.
Liam Salt’s men kept their cool when the petulant Meerkats threatened to turn the showpiece final into a farce, the Stockton Sunday League side having three players and their manager sent off as they lost their discipline completely after Traf started to turn the screw after the break.
Two goals in five minutes before the interval had handed Salt’s men the lead at the break, despite a pretty right opening 45 minutes.
First sub Sean Exley, on for the injured Joel Ramm, who had to be taken to hospital with a knee injury, charged down keeper Paul Housam and the keeper’s clearance cannoned off the forward and into the net to open the scoring.
Shortly after Traf received another piece of good fortune as Dean Craig’s effort took a wicked deflection and wrongfooted Housam and flew in for 2-0.
The Meerkats looked riled at the interval as they exchanged a heated teamtalk on the pitch and they never recovered as Traf turned on the style after the break.
First Sean Exley volleyed high into the net after Lewis Taylor’s searching cross was only half cleared, before star man Billy Logan calmly slotted into the bottom corner moments later to make it 4-0.
If the Meerkats were left fuming by the linesman’s flag not going up for Logan’s first, the striker’s header moments later that looked suspiciously offside all but ended their part in a competitive contest as they resorted to bully-boy tactics and constantly barracked the match officials, resulting in Gary Bowe, Mark Williams and sub Peter Barnes all being sent off, while manager Jed Hartley also saw red after a prolongued spell of verbal towards the linesman and referee.
Traf were now strolling the final as they failed to let the Meerkat’s farcical showing of illdiscipline ruin their occasion.
Sub Chris Dove showed superb composure when he was sent through on goal and nonchalantly dinked over Housam with his left foot to make it 6-0.
Then Logan wrapped up his hat-trick and with it the scoring for the evening with the goal of the game.
First the striker held up the ball as his marker hit the deck before beating two men with a drop of the shoulder and calmly rolling into the bottom corner.
Traf had more chances after Logan’s seventh, but the final 10 minutes were a walk in the park and something of an anti-climax to what had been a superb Traf performance.
Logan was in superb form as he led the line superbly and took his chances with aplomb, while sub Exley, Taylor and right-back Wayne Aziz also stood out for the victors.