v Newent Town (Bluefin Sports Challenge Cup – 28 Mar 2022)



Tuffley Rovers win 4-3 after penalties


After both sides had secured their status in their respective league competitions, Newent Town and Tuffley Rovers might have welcomed the opportunity to pursue a different challenge for the remainder of the 2021/22 season, as they met in the Bluefin Sports Challenge Cup, 1st Round at the Wildsmith Meadow.

With the additional feature that the game was unusually played on a Monday evening, it was perhaps unsurprising that Rovers put out a much changed line-up from that fielded in the final league game against Fairford Town 10 days previous, and Rovers’ boss Neil Mustoe called up several youngsters, with Demi Yussuf, Tomos Shyamapant, young German winger Ruben Hallmann, and Scott Nicholls joining more regularly selected teenagers Jack Copland and Jacob Geddes in the starting eleven.

Such was the threadbare look of his squad that Mustoe was limited to two substitutes, one sixteen-year-old Charlie Yates and the other a former Newent player, Jordan Barry. He was, however, able to call on some experience, with Brett James added to the squad for the first time this season and starting at left-back.

The hosts featured two former Rovers players, both in attack, as Jordan Cooper and Jeremiah Idowu were selected and they also had a Barry in their number, with Jordan’s brother, Ryan, named at centre-half.

Mustoe’s side started brightly, perhaps freed from the shackles of a long and challenging league campaign, but Newent offered a clear counter-attacking threat and Rovers had to be sharp in their defending to keep it at 0-0.

On 24 minutes, Rovers did grab the lead and it was a sensational goal that took them there. James, who might lack some of the pace that had seen him to 63 competitive goals in his previous 184 games for the club, had been a willing runner from deep in the opening stages and when he latched onto a loose ball, then bounced off a challenge, he was able to unleash a rasping drive from 25 yards that was still climbing as it nestled into the top corner of the Newent goal.

Rovers now looked in the ascendency and might have extended their lead, with Shutt and Hallmann seeing plenty of the ball out wide, but they didn’t test the Newent keeper and eight minutes after taking the lead they were pegged back. Cooper picked the ball up deep and found enough space to strike the ball low and hard past Copland and into the bottom corner of the Rovers net. 1-1 after 32 minutes and all to play for.

Both sides then pressed for a further opportunity but there was little chance of note and the interval arrived with the score at 1-1.

The second period was not dissimilar to the first, with both sides trading possession but creating little by way of clear opportunities. Matt Evans and Tyler Weir went closest for the hosts, but neither tested Copland seriously, whilst Yates had a headed chance for Rovers, late on, after he’d made an enterprising cameo from the bench in the last quarter.

Neither side could quite conjure up the chance that would take the game their way and so when the match official’s whistle sounded to end the contest after 90 minutes, the game inevitably headed into a penalty shoot-out.

Brindley Woodward started the contest, smashing his spot-kick beyond Copland, then James demonstrated equal confidence to make it 1-1. The other score in the 90, Cooper, then blasted his effort over the Rovers bar, then Shyamapant calmly rolled the ball home to make it 2-1 and advantage to Rovers.

Pemberton then scored for the hosts and Kent saw his spot-kick saved. 2-2 and parity restored. Copland then saved the fourth Newent penalty, from Glenister, but if that might have put some under pressure it didn’t phase young substitute Yates, who calmly placed the ball into the bottom corner. 3-2 and two kicks to go.

Newent’s Tyler Weir had to score – which he did – leaving Joe Shutt with a chance to decide the contest. Rovers’ top scorer this season finished with aplomb, making it 4-3 and taking Rovers into the next round, where they would face Division One winners, Studley.