It was worth missing that 2018 World Cup qualifier after all. Jason St Juste, who has just broken into the St Kitts and Nevis team, opted to miss the West Indian nation’s team match against the Turks and Caicos Islands last week in favour of place at Wembley with a village side from the Humber estuary.
The 29-year-old’s decision was richly vindicated after he was integral to his club, from a community of 4,000, achieving one the FA Trophy’s most remarkable turnarounds. The Conference North side - a division and 18 places below strong favourites Wrexham – were 2-0 behind with 14 minutes to play and also overcame the disappointment of Wrexham’s late equalising third goal in extra time to win on penalties. Football being the game it is, St Juste missed his penalty but goalkeeper Adam Nicklin – a gym instructor who also saved two kicks in the semi-final – kept out Wrexham’s Steve Tomassen strike at sudden death and the day was done.
“We got him six months ago,” manager Billy Heath said of St Juste. “He had fallen out of football, was released from Halifax… and was then at Farsley Athletic, two divisions below us. He just needed an arm around him. He is not a young man but he fell out of love with it.” There was no TV money for the teams and North Ferriby stood to make a loss on the trip to Wembley had they not won, collecting the £50,000 match fee for a game which was huge advertisement for the Football Association’s promotion of the game at the lower levels.
It was St Juste who made it so, with a performance of pace and technicality which ought to generate interest from Football League managers. The Leeds-born winger, who competed with Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott in sprint drills amid the beginnings of a Southampton which petered out under Harry Redknapp a decade ago, has played for six non-league clubs since and even tried Norway. But he had the beating of the full-time professional Wrexham defenders from the start and his big part in the decisive 86th minute equaliser from Danny Clarke came before his deflected cross provided the goal which gave the village side the 3-2 lead they held until Ian Moult struck a late equaliser. Heath’s substitute Ryan Kendall also scored twice.
Wrexham’s second half capitulation, after Moult’s early goal had been doubled by Jay Harris just before the hour, stemmed from the manager Kevin Wilkin’s curious decision to replace captain Dean Keates with 19-year-old Robbie Evans 20 minutes from time. Keates was palpably unhappy with that move, which contributed to the chorus of boos which accompanied sections of that second half display. Wilkins sounded like a man who fears for his job, last night, as he justified a disappointing season by saying that his spending had been limited by contractual obligations to existing players. “If people don’t think I’m the right man for the job that’s up to them,” he said. Heath is only looking ahead.
Wrexham (4-2-3-1) Coughlin; Tomassen, Smith, Hudson, Ashton; Harris, Keates (Evans, 72); Morris (York 87), Clarke (Bishop 102), Jennings; Moult. Substitutes: Carrington, Evans, Waterfall
North Ferriby: Nicklin; Topliss, Hone, Wilson, Wilde (Peat 89); Fry (Kendall 79); Clarke, King, Bolder (Denton 61), St Juste; Denton. Substitutes: Nichlson, Gray.
Referee: M Oliver (Northumberland)
Match rating: 8
Man of the match: St JusteReuse content