MATCH PREVIEW: Tavistock face a ‘free hit’ at Sholing Lambs seek the points to enhance their bid for the play-offs
TWO weeks ago, Tavistock manager Stuart Henderson set his side the target of three points from three challenging league fixtures against teams challenging for promotion. With two of those now done, it is Mission: Accomplished for the Lambs, ahead of the trip to Bashley on Saturday.
Tavi started that sequence with a home clash against Hamworthy United, who ran out 2-0 winners at Langsford Park. Given that result, few would have given Henderson’s side much chance against leaders Sholing, but a hat-trick from the predatory Liam Prynn earned the Lambs a superb 3-2 win.
Now, Tavi’s trip to Bashley is something of a free hit but, if the team is to make the end of season play-offs, this is the sort of fixture that they can expect to get – especially as the likelihood is, that if Tavi do finish in the top five, a semi-final fixture would be away from home.
“I didn’t care how it came, to be honest with you,” Henderson said on hitting that three-point target. “Obviously we got those three points now, Bashley is going to be really difficult on Saturday and they are flying; they put ten past Wimborne in two games and have had some outstanding results. They are one of the big hitters at this level, so it will be a difficult game. But we can go there with confidence after last week’s result.”
“On the day it was well deserved. Don’t get me wrong, their goalkeeper did make a couple of mistakes, but we took our chances. In general play, I thought we played well, we passed the ball well and created chances and when they pulled it back to 3-2, there was still half an hour left, but we defended – for most of the time – well. It was a pleasing performance.
“We have a settled team now. We have always wanted a settled team, but obviously circumstances dictate and I made some changes, which were difficult decisions, to let people go that had been with us for a long period of time. I feel I have to do what is best for the club and this group of players and I feel the squad is looking good, looking healthy. It’s a young squad and we have eight games left which we are looking forward to.”
However, while Tavistock are making great strides on the pitch, the club are struggling to keep up off the pitch and despite their promotion last season, attendances have generally been low at Langsford Park this year meaning money is tight.
That is a crying shame given the attractive brand of football Henderson likes to play and his team deserve more support from the Tavistock public than what they get right now.
This week saw the start of their ground grading work required for Southern League Level, which requires a turnstile, amongst other things. But vandals lodged stones into fresh concrete laid for the foundations of the structure undoing much of the good work and goodwill of volunteers.
Meeting the criteria for such ground gradings is not cheap and Tavi are not a club that is flushed with cash.
“Where I would like to be and where the club is ready to be are two different things,” Henderson said. “We have to be realistic – I don’t feel the club is geared up for this level, we have found it very challenging, so going up another level would be an even bigger challenge.
“However, if that opportunity was to happen then we would all have to rally round and I have been told that the club would take it. I am not sure how, but they would and we will do our best to make it work. For now, the main target was safety in the league, which we have done and now we have eight games to finish as high as possible, but wherever we finish, it’s been a good season.”