Reward at last for Keynsham Town’s talented youngsters

THE efforts of Keynsham Town’s fledgling first team have gone largely unrewarded in recent weeks in the Toolstation Western Premier Division, but at last they have started to get what they deserve after several promising performances.

Despite matching league leaders Saltash United for over 70 minutes in mid-March, having taken an early lead with a Jemar Thomas penalty, three late goals gave the leaders a flattering 5-1 scoreline to take back to Cornwall.

But a week later at home to Ilfracombe Town, the Ks were again fast out of the traps, with two superb goals from Will Sage (48 seconds) and a debut senior goal for 17-year-old Freddie Frazer on 10 minutes.

Despite the visitors pulling a goal back on 20 minutes, Keynsham had the better of the chances in an entertaining game and ran out worthy 2-1 winners. This result at last moved them off the bottom of the table, although local rivals Cadbury Heath do have two games in hand on the Ks.

The following Tuesday saw a feisty Les Phillips League Cup quarter-final on a foul evening at Brislington. The Ks took the lead with a net-busting free kick from Liban Ibrahim on 40 minutes but were quickly pegged back by a Brislington equaliser.

With nothing to split the sides, it went straight to penalties after 90 minutes of blood and thunder. Although Keynsham converted their first two penalties, it was the hosts who won the shootout 3-2.

Ks committee member Kevin Gooch said: “It was a fine spectacle for the spectators and a bit of a throwback to the Seventies – a horrible wet evening, a tough pitch, two sides trying to progress to a semi-final giving everything – and it showed!

“There were strong tackles, flare-ups, bookings and red cards, plus some strange refereeing decisions, good goals and great penalty saves. Games are seldom like this anymore and it’s a pity that one side had to lose, but that’s cup football.”

With the proposed merger of the Western League and South West Peninsula League – which would in simple terms have created both “north” and “south” Premier Divisions at step 5 of the non-league football pyramid – having seemingly disappeared for the foreseeable future, the club finishing in 19th position in the Premier Division may now also be in danger of dropping into Division One.

Ks club secretary Jules French said: “With Bitton having resigned from the Premier Division earlier in the season, thereby filling a ”relegation” place, it was thought that no more teams would be relegated from that division; clearly that may not now be the case, so we are doing all we can to not finish last of the remaining clubs.

“There are so many variables that will contribute towards whether a second club is relegated, such as existing premier clubs requesting either lateral moves to another league or voluntary relegation in light of the colossal travel costs that all clubs must bear.

“Therefore the fate of the club finishing 19th will not be known until the FA publish next season’s constitution in the middle of May.”

Ks reserves are also in the midst of a relegation battle in the Uhlsport Somerset County League Premier Division, but have progressed to the Somerset Senior Cup semi-finals. In a thrilling quarter-final at Fry Club, after a 1-1 deadlock at 90 minutes, it was the Ks who won the penalty shootout 3-2 after 16-year-old keeper Archie Didcott saved three spot kicks.