Sholing FC (Southampton) 4 Tavistock AFC 1
Sholing had played a league game the previous Thursday and despite overnight rain and again on Friday, their ground staff and volunteers did an excellent job to make it playable for the Lambs’ visit.
Absent from the squad were the injured Josh Grant and the unavailable Taylor Scarff. Josh Parry would revert to the bench to be replaced by Alex Battle with Liam Prynn and Sean Thomson welcomed back into the starting line-up.
There was a good start for the Lambs when in the second minute Ed Harrison had a shot, only to see his effort go straight into the arms of keeper Ryan Gosney, but after five minutes the Lambs would go behind. Difficulty in defending from corners and free kicks had been a matter of concern in recent games and so it proved again. Jake Cope’s corner found Jordan Rose at the far post who header down goal-wards took a deflection off defender Ben Cross to sail past keeper Josh Oak. Leon Baker-Neto volleyed wide from another Cope corner on eight minutes. Then the Lambs had a trio of chances, when Joe O’Connor’s turn
and shot was blocked; Harrison just failed to get on the end of a Tallan Burns corner; and the best chance arrived on 15 minutes as Prynn found himself clear to get his shot away past Gosney, but the ball went the wrong side of the post.
Another set piece arrived for the Boatmen on 18 minutes, as Cope’s corner was sent to the far post for Robert Flooks to head back across goal to Rose who headed home from close range.
Thomson shot over the bar on 24 minutes and then immediately after, from a Burns corner, Harrison’s header was cleared off the line. Cope’s free-kick on 35 minutes sailed wide and then another good chance came the Lambs’ way on the stroke of half time as Prynn set up Harrison in space on the edge of the
area, but his effort went straight to the keeper.
Two nil down at half time and a mountain to climb if the Lambs were to get anything from the game.
A training ground move constructed by the Lambs on 50 minutes was blocked for a corner and then Cope would go close, as the Lambs cleared his effort off the line, before the home side went further ahead on the hour. Again, it was another set piece from the corner, as Dan Mason’s effort was blocked, but Rose reacted the quickest to send in a shot through a crowd of players to notch Sholing’s third of the day.
The Lambs would finally get on the score sheet when on 70 minutes, Thomson was adjudged to have been fouled in the area for the referee to award a penalty. Up stepped Prynn to coolly slot past Gosney for what proved to be just consolation.
The home side would have the final say on the day as on 85 minutes Charlie Wagstaffe was tripped on the edge of the area and the resulting free-kick saw sub Cohwen Whitaker send the ball over the wall and despite Oak getting a hand to it, the ball flew into the top corner.
A disappointing day for the Lambs, but they still remain in the final play-off position. Meanwhile, Sholing consolidated their claim to host one of the play-off games.
With many games during this week there is a plethora of permutations as to who could finish in this fifth spot, as Tavistock, Bashley, Frome Town and Evesham United are all in the mix. It will all be much clearer come this Thursday (20th) with the backlog of fixtures.
The Lambs final match is this Saturday when they entertain Frome Town at Langsford Park (KO 3pm) in what could be a decider as to which team gets the fifth play-off spot.
But regardless of what happens the Lambs can be ever so proud of their first season at Step 4 and Southern League football.
The expectations at the start of the season were one of consolidation to remain in the league. They have certainly done that beyond all expectations, remaining in the play-off positions and the top half of the table throughout, along with a decent FA Trophy run of four rounds before going out to Hungerford in a narrow defeat.
Finally, this Saturday will see the launch of a Tavistock AFC appeal ‘Friends of Football in Tavistock’ to be headed up by our President Sir Geoffrey Cox MP.