By Kevin Marriott at Poltair Park


St Austell 3 Bude Town 2

ADAM Carter scored a second half hat-trick as St Austell fought back from 1-0 down to record a previous victory which keeps them two points clear at the top of the table.

Carter took his season’s tally to 30 goals as the Lillywhites recovered from an edgy first half against a much improved Bude side who will feel they should have taken something from the game.

Title rivals Liskeard Athletic also won on Saturday, 3-0 against Sticker, so the gap remains two points with the Blues set to play one of their two games in-hand on Thursday at home to Newquay.

St Austell dominated the opening half hour with Liam Eddy coming closest to breaking the deadlock in the 29th minute with a fierce shot from an acute angle which hit the underside of the bar and bounced to safety.

Bude also had their moments and their best chance just before half-time fell to Ryan Keates, whose low shot from 20 yards flew inches wide.

But Keates took his next chance which came nine minutes into the second half when he finished off from 10 yards after a goalmouth scramble.

The goal was the signal for St Austell to change things immediately, with Will Tinsley and Ed Timmons replacing Rhys Hooper and Eddy, strengthening the midfield and leaving Carter on his own up front. And the switch worked almost immediately as Carter ran on to a through ball which caught Bude square and the big striker used all of his experience to finish with aplomb.

St Austell swept ahead from their next move after 61 minutes with Carter’s diving header too powerful for Bude keeper Liam Hill to stop.

Bude were reduced to 10 men two minutes later with right-back Jake Williams sent to the sin-bin, apparently for smiling sarcastically at the referee, who had a strange game.

Several times St Austell almost took advantage of their extra man with Harvey Hann hitting the post, Carter heading over from a good position and Martyn Duff left gutted that his spectacular volley was ruled out for offside.

Bude continued to hang in there, But Carter was now almost unplayable and two minutes after his cheeky chip cleared the bar he completed his hat-trick from close range on the 90 minute mark.

Bude were then reduced to 10 men for the second time when Cole Harford was shown a straight red card for a late challenge on Neil Slateford near the halfway line. It seemed a very harsh decision and one which Bude are expected to appeal, having been video footage from the game.

To their credit, Bude refused to cave in and indeed they reduced the arrears in the ninth minute of time added on, with captain and man of the match Harry Hopcroft firing a direct free kick past St Austell’s new goalkeeper Andy Collings, who was signed in midweek as cover for Harry Ashton, who has damaged ankle ligaments.

ST AUSTELL: Andy Collings, Kieron Bishop (Tom Guest 90+1), Harvey Hann (Connor Wharton 76), Ollie Brokenshire, Martyn Duff; Noah Teagle, Rhys Hooper (Will Tinsley 55), Neil Slateford, Matt Searle; Liam Eddy (Ed Timmons 55), Adam Carter. Sub not used: Kyle Marks. BUDE TOWN: Liam Hill, Jake Williams, Harry Hopcroft (capt), Tyler Yendle, Sam Down (Scott Sanders 82); Cole Harford, Baga Mariko, Ryan Keates; Kevin Lartey, Carlo Chandler (Tornado Bello 79), Noah Maund. Subs not used: Liam McDonald, Ben Potter.

Referee: Steve McCulloch. Attendance: 139.

Men of the Match. St Austell – Adam Carter; Bude – Harry Hopcroft.