v Lydney Town (Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Div – 4 Dec 2021)




If Tuffley Rovers came into this all Gloucestershire tie looking over their shoulder, after a run of dreadful results has seen what was a 12 point gap between them and their opponents, Lydney Town, had all but disappeared, they left The Recreation Ground with plenty more to worry about as they succumbed to a four goal defeat that took their total time without a league goal to 450 minutes, on a run of nine consecutive defeats in all competitions; eight of them in the Hellenic League Premier Division.

After the midweek defeat against Fairford Town, Rovers boss Rich Cox once again made several changes to his starting line-up, as Harry Morgan, Jack Beardsell and Warren Mann all returned to the side. For Mann it meant a 450th first team appearance, at Step 7 and above, which is a remarkable feat for a player who has achieved so much in his time with the club.

Will Ramsey made his second appearance, starting at right-back again, and immediately showed some of the attacking potential evident in the defeat to Fairford, getting to the byline in the opening moments of the game, but his cross-come-shot went across the Lydney goal and out of play.

Any promise and hope for better things offered by the opening salvo was quickly confined to history as Rovers fell behind as early as the 5th minute. When the ball was initially played into Rovers territory there appeared to be little obvious threat but the ball came out to the experienced Jamie Addis, who made space for himself on the edge of the box before firing an unstoppable curving shot beyond Jack Copland and into the visiting goal.

What followed was some concerted pressure from the hosts and Liam Sheppard almost extended the lead but his cannon like shot from 22 yards struck the bar and Rovers remained only one goal in deficit.

Ramsey was at the heart of most Rovers attacks and another low ball into the box was just too far in front of Mann and out of Morgan’s reach, as it span through a host of bodies in the six yard box.

On 22 minutes it was 2-0, as Rovers once again gave too much space to the opposition, with Brad Kear taking full advantage as he picked up the ball 15 yards out, before hammering the ball past Copland.

From there, Rovers struggled to get a foothold in the game and Lydney always looked the most likely side to score, save for one effort from Dom Kent, comfortably saved by Rich Thomas, on the stroke of half-time.

If the hope for Rovers travelling support had been a passion filled return to the pitch in the second period, what followed was arguably the polar opposite. That Cox’s side survived a goalmouth scramble four minutes into the half was a warning of things to come, rather than the spark to drive improvement, and several episodes of desperate defending followed, with only the occasional foray into Lydney Town territory offered in response, with Thomas virtually untroubled for long periods.

When Rovers did finally break the Lydney defensive line, 68 minutes into the game, Brennan Denness-Barrett wasted the most glorious of chances, lifting the ball over Thomas and high over the hosts’ bar, from 7 yards out and only the keeper to beat.

Just 90 seconds later it was game over, as Charlie Powell took advantage of more lackluster defending before firing a shot on goal. Although likely to trouble Copland, it was taken completely away from the Rovers keeper, as a wicked deflection off Spencer took the ball into the opposite side of the goal and made it 3-0 to Lydney.

Things then went from bad to worse, as a corner from Fin Hamblett swung sharply in towards Copland’s goal and the keeper was helpless to prevent it from going into the top corner of his goal, to make it 4-0.

There was time for one substitute, Joe Shutt, to put an excellent chance, created by another substitute, Lucas Price, wide of the goal from close range but a consolation effort would have put an unnecessary gloss on a scoreline which was very much in the hosts favour and no more than they deserved.

For Rovers boss Cox a two-week break may well be a blessing given his side’s appalling run of form, although with tough games against Corsham Town and Longlevens to come he might not want too much time to reflect before a return to action.