v Cribbs FC (Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Div – 20 Nov 2021)




A return to league action didn’t bring any change to Tuffley Rovers’ fortunes, as they crashed to a 3-0 defeat away at high-flying Cribbs FC.

The result was Rovers’ seventh consecutive defeat in all competitions, as they continue an appalling run of form that has seen them take just eight points from their last eleven league games. By contrast, Cribbs’ win saw them move to second in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division table and record a third consecutive win in all competitions, after they had suffered a shock league defeat at Lydney Town early in the month.

Once again Rich Cox made several changes to his starting line-up, with Jack Copland, Archie Woodall, Harry Morgan, Josh Aldridge, Lucas Price and Jack Beardsell all recalled.

Despite all the changes the early moments in the game suggested Rovers might be competitive but, as has been typical during their recent slump in form, they fell behind on almost the first occasion their hosts attacked.

On 8 minutes full-back Matthew Spiller had acres of space just inside the Rovers half and his precision pass to Jacob Hodgson was met by an equally precise header that was guided into the path of Steve Murray, whose lobbed effort, as Copland advanced from his goal, was as exquisite as the moments leading up to it.

What followed from Cox’s men was a positive response that belied their recent form and they showed attacking ambition, based around the now familiar possession based football. Beardsell and Price both had efforts blocked by Cribbs defenders just before the quarter hour mark and although Cribbs were making the Rovers defence work hard, Copland went untroubled.

As the midway point of the half arrived Beardsell struck a tame shot straight at Kingston in the Cribbs goal, before Murray flashed an effort over Copland’s bar from the edge of the area.

Aldridge then had a couple of relatively tame 20 yard efforts on target, as Rovers continued to press, with the veteran Warren Mann producing a succession of lung-busting runs that resulted in some excellent crosses, albeit without creating any genuine threat on Kingston’s goal.

Despite a healthy share of possession the visitors should have fallen further behind on 37 minutes, but a wonderful save from Copland, followed by some heroic defending, kept out Hodgson, before Jacob Geddes cleared another Murray effort off the goalline.

With the interval approaching Aldridge and Kent had further efforts for Rovers, whilst the dangerous Murray almost grabbed a second for Cribbs, but both goals remained intact and the break arrived with the hosts restricted to a single goal lead.

Morgan, who had been a busy presence in the centre of the Rovers midfield, went close in the early stages of the second half but almost every attempt on Kingston’s goal was invariably from distance and comfortably saved, with an effort from the evergreen Mann a repeat of what had gone before.

For all their possession and in keeping with recent performances, Rovers had looked vulnerable and they fell further behind on 56 minutes, as poacher Murray finished off a good move after being set-up by George Kellow.

The second goal took the wind out of the visiting side’s sails and when Ali Boyer rounded White, on 75 minutes, before curling a 12 yard effort past Copland to make it 3-0, it created a scoreline that took the game completely out of Rovers reach.

Substitute Dion Ellis-Clark had a fantastic chance to reduce the arrears, moments after coming on, before Beardsell put a shot over the bar and Mann skewed his effort wide when well placed.

When the final whistle eventually sounded it brought to an end a game that typified much of Rovers season and left Cox and his Assistant, Ritchie Warden, with plenty to think about as they being to look rather more frequently over their shoulders at the teams at the foot of the table. With just four games scheduled before the end of the calendar year, Rovers’ position come the start of 2022 will be one of challenge unless they recover their form quickly.