v Corsham Town (Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Div – 14 Aug 2021)




After the high associated with their Emirates FA Cup win at Windsor six days earlier, Tuffley Rovers returned to Hellenic League action with something of a bump, or perhaps a slip-up, as they dominated possession against a new opponent in the competition only to gift two goals that meant they returned to Glevum Park empty-handed.

Rovers’ Manager, Rich Cox, had probably hoped that despite having to make a late change following the warm-up, as Lucas Price picked up an injury and was replaced by Rudi McKinnon, a largely unchanged team would build on the impressive win against the Combined Counties opposition they had faced the previous weekend. Optimism can be short lived for any team but Cox had probably hoped the buoyancy associated with their last outing might last more than 30 seconds.

As it was, an injudicious challenge from left-back Josh Swales, resulting a penalty award that couldn’t be disputed, was the early setback that no Rovers supporter would have wanted and when Matt Morris despatched the penalty, which found a way through Adam Clark’s attempt to keep it out and handed Corsham Town a very early lead.

20210814 Penalty for Corsham

The positive news for Cox was that his team responded well, although a healthy share of possession, alongside forays into attacking positions didn’t necessarily result in any clear chances and an effort from Rudi McKinnon midway through the half, which was beaten away by Rob Brown in the Corsham goal. That opportunity aside, whilst both teams found themselves in good attacking positions, chances were few and far between and when the interval arrived the hosts had comfortably held their lead.

20210820 Chance v Corsham

As soon as the second period started the theme of the first half continued, with Rovers dominating both possession and territorial advantage, but struggling to carve out chances, with Brown and his defence working hard to snuff out attacks.

With fifteen minutes remaining the game took a decisive turn, as a huge punt upfield by Brown landed between a Rovers defence that looked all at sea and Gary Higdon was given far too much time and space, as he strolled onto the loose ball, squeezing his effort past the advancing Clark and into the Rovers net.

A series of substitutions followed, with Warren Mann and Sam Mendes entering the fray for Cox’s side, but the pattern of play continued, as Rovers dominated the ball but rarely troubled Brown.

If there was hope that Rovers might capitalise on the advantage handed to them by the hosts being reduced to ten men with five minutes of normal time remaining, that was quickly extinguished by the match official’s decision to end the game on exactly ninety minutes and without any additional time having been allowed. Cox might have been left to wonder what might have been, although the learning point might well have been that, no matter how long the game had gone on Rovers didn’t look like scoring.

With a second consecutive league defeat to start their season, attention now turns to the Emirates FA Cup tie on 21 August, when Cox and his troops will be hoping they can secure a place in the 1st Qualifying Round of the competition.