HELSTON supporters massed on the banks overlooking the pitch at Bodieve Park held their collective breath, eyes trained on the centre circle where referee Andrew McKnight stood poised to blow the full time whistle.
A final Veryan attack had come to nothing and Helston, leading 4-2 after a stunning second half comeback which saw them overrun their Duchy League opponents, were on the brink of cup glory.
Hennesy launched the ball forward, and finally, after four minutes of stoppage time, McKnight called time, sparking a pitch invasion and wild scenes on the touchline as manager Graham Blake and assistants Jerry Ede and Chris Breasley celebrated a historic result.
What a difference an hour can make. Helston were ragged and disorganised in a first half in which Veryan were the dominant force.
They took the lead on 15 minutes when a high foot in the box led to an indirect free kick, and Justin Trebilcock laid the ball in the path of Barrylee Johns, who curled a peach of a shot into the top corner with Hennesy a bystander.
And for a time it looked as though Veryan would add to their tally, with the men in white shirts launching attack after attack down a poorly marshalled right wing.
But the Blues made it to half time, and Blake used the opportunity to reorganise his troops and calm frayed nerves.
“I believe in my boys,” he said after the game. “I knew we could come back. I said to them ‘don’t to leave anything in the changin rooms,’ and they came out an had an inspired second half. Every single one of them was up for it and they turned it around in the end. The best side won.”
No one, not even Blake, saw Helston’s equaliser coming. Six minutes after the restart Will Paul stepped up to take a free kick just inside the Veryan half, and his long, looping ball into the box somehow managed to dip over keeper Eliot Turner’s head and in.
From then on it was one way traffic, as Helston’s midfield quartet, driven on by the excellent Phil Black, took the game to Veryan.
Chris Reed put Helston 2-1 up with his first of the game 12 minutes later, keeping his composure to volley in from the edge of the six yard box at the second attempt.
Veryan were unravelling, and sure enough a free kick conceded just outside the box resulted in Helston captain Shaun Parker stepping up to curl a superb second over the wall and in off the post. Parker ran straight to Blake on the touchline to celebrate. Helston were in wonderland.
But Veryan showed real character to battle their way back into the game, and Helston were forced into some desperate defending, with Mike Hallibone called into action to make a series of towering clearances from dangerous balls lofted into the box.
But a nudge on Johns in the area with ten minutes to go gave Veryan a lifeline, and he duly stepped up to hammer his spot kick down the middle.
Suddenly the Duchy League side were back in the game, their supporters finding their voices as Helston fans fell quiet. On the touchline Blake paced up and down, roaring his players on.
And just as they had after half time, they responded.
Helston dug deep, summoning every last ounce of energy to snuff out any hopes of a Veryan comeback. The last five minutes belonged to the Blues, and they sealed the first Junior Cup win in the club’s history with a classy fourth, Reed jinking his way through the Veryan defence to rifle a volley into the bottom corner with Turner nowhere near it.
“Words can’t describe it,” said Blake, a losing finalist in 2003, after the game. “It feels aboslutely amazing. What a thing for the club, what a thing for the supporters. I said to them I know what it’s like to lose. Just don’t go out there and feel like you could have done more.”
Tired but delighted, man-of-the-match Parker lifted the trophy to cheers from the travelling support. What more could you ask?
Helston: B Hennesy, E Dunn, J Nolan, M Hallibone, S Eastwood, P Reynolds (K Jacka), P Black (C Matthews 75), S Parker, A Zamaneagra (T Lake 55), C Reed (J Bray 94), W Paul. Subs (not used): B Huse.
Veryan: E Turner, W Balsdon, M Bishop (S Matthews 68), A Wheildon (S Harris 78), L Cope (G Wheildon 73), O Young, B Johns, J Trebilcock, C Phillips, M O'Callaghan (K Pearce 54), A Pearce. Sub (not used): J Chaffin.