By Kevin Marriott at Poltair Park


St Austell 1 Newquay 2

ST AUSTELL’S title bid was blown off course, quite literally, on Good Friday when they suffered a shock home defeat against fourth-placed Newquay.

The Lillywhites, unbeaten at Poltair Park since September, were hoping to extend their lead at the top to eight points, but in very windy conditions they were never at their best as a lively Peppermints side claimed all three points.

Twenty-four hours later title rivals Liskeard Athletic beat Dobwalls 2-0 to close the gap to two points with two games in-hand, but there’s still a lot of football to be played.

On Good Friday, Newquay centre-half Harry Downing broke the deadlock after 64 minutes by getting on the end of Cam Turner’s inswinging corner from the right.

And 10 minutes later a calamitous wind-assisted mix-up between Harvey Hann and goalkeeper Harry Ashton presented striker Alex Cole with an open goal to make it 2-0.

This was the signal for St Austell to introduce prolific scorer Liam Eddy from the bench, and his goal 10 minutes from time set up a grandstand finish during which Newquay had Phil Lowry sent off and both sides spurned great chances.

Lowry was initially ordered to the sin-bin but another remark made to the referee led to a red card being brandished, leaving Newquay to see out the final minutes with 10 men.

Just before that, Turner had missed a golden opportunity to restore the visitors’ two-goal advantage as he broke clear through the middle but he shot into the side netting.

Boosted by that miss, St Austell poured forward in search of an equaliser and almost got it in the second minute of time added on when a mad penalty area scramble following Kieron Bishop’s dazzling run ended with the right-back’s stab at goal cleared inside the six-yard box.

St Austell manager Chris Knight said: “Full credit to Newquay, they deserved their win.

“We just couldn’t get going and once we did it was too late.”

Windy conditions played a significant part in the game to such an extent that it would have been no surprise if one of the goalkeepers had got themselves on the scoresheet.

The playing surface was in astonishingly good shape given the monsoon weather last week and the volunteer grounds people deserve huge credit.

St Austell are back in action on Saturday when mid-table Bude Town are the visitors (3pm), while Newquay’s pursuit of third continues at Liskeard tonight (Wednesday, 7.30pm).

ST AUSTELL: Harry Ashton, Kieron Bishop, Martyn Duff, Rhys Hooper, Ollie Brokenshire, Harvey Hann (Kyle Marks 78), Neil Slateford (capt), Matt Searle, George Marris, Adam Carter, Jake Miller (Liam Eddy 65). Subs: Tom Guest, Henry Wilson, Ed Timmons.

NEWQUAY: Brodie Cole; Callum Edlin, Tom Moxham, Matt Sanders (Jay Davie 78), Harry Downing, Ross Fallens (Josh Evans 72), Tom Shepherd, Cam Turner, Alex Cole, Phil Lowry, Louis Price. Subs: Rudi Sharp, Ewan Travers, Harrie Tilston.

Goals: St Austell – Liam Eddy (80); Newquay – Harry Downing (64), Alex Cole (73).

Referee: Jonathan Green.

Attendance: 278.

Men of the Match: St Austell – Rhys Hooper; Newquay – Cam Turner.

Remaining league games in title race: St Austell – Saturday, April 6 – Bude h; Sat 13 – Holsworthy a; Wed 17 – Dobwalls a; Mon 22 – Holsworthy h; Wed 24 – St Dennis a; Sat 27 – Truro City Res a.

Liskeard Athletic – Wednesday, April 3 – Newquay h; Sat 6 – Sticker h; Sat 13 – Newquay a; Tues 16 – St Dennis a; Fri 19 – Callington a; Mon 22 – Wendron h; Wed 24 – Holsworthy a; Sat 27 – Mullion h.