Where's The Tea Hut reflects upon local football South West style with a few trips further afield. Keep the faith & stay safe.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Setting The Standard

Tuesday 6th August 2019
South West Peninsula League West
Attendance: 275
Admission: £6 & £4 concessions
Programme: £1 (It's a good one)
Tea Hut Stuff: Having to suffer a controlled diet at the moment (bugger)
Parking: Club car park (take care, you can get blocked in)
Weather: Mild evening with the sun setting over St Austell Brewery

The sweeping slope of Poltair Park provided the spick and span setting for tonights action. The pitch looked in top condition and plenty of eager punters were taking up positions in the characterful Main Stand. St Austell are well known for keen support and also take good numbers to away games.

I've been here a couple of times before against Bodmin Town and Tavistock but never got around to doing a visit report. Like everyone else I was looking forward to this encounter with Liskeard.

FA restructuring means that 20 sides from Cornwall will battle it out in the SWPL West this season (a similar set up exists for Devon clubs in the new SWPL East). Having learned a bit about the standard of local football in the 4 years I've resided down here, the newly created West Division appears to be segmented into 3 specific sections. The lead section includes the clubs who could win it, the next section contains sides who should be capable of wandering around the mid table region and the 'back of the train' section groups together the remaining teams who could very well get tonked.

My viewpoint before the game was as follows: St Austell have lost a few star players over the summer, especially to their new rivals Helston but in my opinion they still qualify for the primary section (they've also got top defender Martin Giles back). 

Liskeard had an excellent campaign last season and won the now defunct Division 1 league. That was a league below what St Austell were playing and facing one of the habitual big guns in the opening fixture of the season is a difficult challenge indeed. Their chances were improved by the surprise return of top striker James Lorenz who only recently joined Truro City. At this moment in time I don't know the circumstances of James coming back into the Liskeard fold. I would class Liskeard as a club in the middle section of my segment theory. Not quite got the depth or experience to challenge for the title but more than capable of beating sides on their day, the odd big-one included.

I feel that the SWPL West may possibly have welcomed a close encounter tonight, a message of re-assurance that there isn't a vast gulf in quality between member clubs. This may still prove true, it's the first fixture of the season for goodness sake. Well St Austell blew the re-assurance factor out the water. A clear warning went out, they've placed the bar right up there on this showing, a clear statement of intent was sent out to rival clubs that they'll have to be damn good to overtake the St Austell runaway juggernaut. They were on fire in this encounter (until they took the foot off the gas at 6-0 for potential climate change reasons). Sorry about that, ahem... 

Don't get me wrong, for the first 10 minutes Liskeard were literally all over the home side, St Austell couldn't get a kick, the regulars stood in front of the Tea Hut were getting restless, if not a little worried. Liskeard were toying with them with that Total Football stuff Johan Cruyffs mates like playing.

What fundamentally put St Austell into gear were the visitors mistakes, that alongside some debatable defending. An increasing loss of possession midway through the first half witnessed St Austell sweep forward and a smartly executed finish from Jake Miller made it 1-0, Jake got a second one 3 minutes later. For 20 minutes either side of half time Liskeard were ripped apart. Admirably they never gave up and battled hard throughout but St Austell were just too good for them. 

The home side were transformed from the jittery unsure start, some of their approach play and interchanging attacks proved a joy to watch. Impressive indeed. 

I don't know if they were saving themselves for the big FA Cup match at Willand Rovers on Saturday but they simply sat back for the last quarter of the game, they plonked Ben Walters up front on his own with the midfield almost half the pitch behind him? Strange. Liskeard got a well taken consolation goal to make it 6-1 and reduce the hurt a little but they shouldn't be too dismayed, St Austell were as world class as non league gets this evening and more of the same will see some cricket scores here at Poltair Park.

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