PLAYER-BOSS Darren Dunning hailed a "huge result" after seeing his buoyant Old Malton St Mary’s side lift the North Riding FA Saturday County Cup for the first time ever, writes Matthew Naylor.
Furthermore, the club's joy was compounded as they also took a big step towards regaining their league title.
Saints beat Teesside League side Thornaby Dubliners 2-1 in the midweek cup final in front of a three-figure crowd at County FA headquarters in Stokesley thanks to goals from former York City and Blackburn midfielder Dunning and Damien Cox.
The Ryedale side did the treble of York Minster Engineering League premier division title, Senior League Cup and York FA Saturday Senior Cup in 2012. Dunning, however, says his current squad is better than it has ever been during his three years at the club.
They may yet prove it, too, as defeat for title rivals Riccall on Saturday, coupled with their own 7-0 romp, put Malt in the driving seat in the championship race, while they are also still in the Senior League Cup - eyeing another treble.
“We knew at the start of the season that winning this trophy was a possibility,” said Dunning of the North Riding FA County Cup.
“We have got such a good squad of players at the moment that we know we can beat anyone at this level.”
The Saints had reached the final once before, in 2010, when they lost to Cargo Fleet just months before Dunning’s appointment. The former York Clubman of the Year believes it is by virtue of a superior passing game that they were able to lift the trophy this time.
“They were very direct, hoofing the ball forwards, while we got it down and tried to pass as much as possible,” said the 33-year-old.
“The better team won on the day and I’m delighted.”
Saints’ attention turned back to league matters on Saturday, and they gave a ruthless display in beating Poppleton 7-0.
Riccall’s 4-0 defeat at Huntington Rovers means Saints will seal another championship if they take seven points from their last three games, regardless of what happens elsewhere.
They won't have it easy on Saturday as they go to neighbours Terrington Glory for a Ryedale derby, but they will travel in great heart.
A determined Poppleton side held them to a goalless first half, but the work-rate of that opening 45 minutes took its toll and Poppy were found wanting in the second period.
Tom Fenwick hit a hat-trick alongside braces from Steve Baxter and Marcus Godsell.
“All we can do now is keep winning games,” added Dunning. "Our priority is just to try our best. I have a lot of belief in the players.”
Things are not so good for Old Malton St Mary's reserves after they lost 2-1 to fellow strugglers Haxby United reserves on Saturday to land themselves in relegation danger in reserve 'A'.
Paul Holmes grabbed both Haxby goals, Lewis Smith scoring for Saints.