Wednesday 21st August 2019
South West Peninsula League West
SALTASH UNITED 6 LAUNCESTON 2
Admission: £6 and £4 concessions
Programme: Think it was £2
Tea Hut Stuff: Steak Pasty £2.90 (last one in the warmer)
Weather: Nice bright evening, mild and dry, slight chill creeping in later
Parking: Leisure centre car park right next to the ground
It's been a cracking start to the South West Peninsula League season. The FA restructuring programme for non league football cast a dark cloud when first announced and granted it may now be causing some regions problems, however as regards the South West and the SWPL splitting into respective Cornwall & Devon divisions (West and East) I think it's introduced some new life into the proceedings, especially the West Division. There are goals galore, clubs that have been pushed up the pyramid from lesser levels are beating established top division sides and there's plenty of debate about some of the early season favourites finding it a lot tougher than expected.
When considering SWPL title favourites they don't come much stronger than Saltash United. Under the stewardship of the Matthew Cusack and Dane Bunney management team they really are a fine footballing side. Apparently Launceston themselves have improved their squad over the summer and it should all make for an interesting encounter.
Saltash local landmarks: Things to do before the game
Saltash is rumoured to have one of the biggest Charity Shop Superstores in the world. They've even got checkouts in there like Morrisons & Tescos. Make a day of it and enjoy a stodgy Macdonalds or an overpriced Costa at the adjacent drive ins.
The entrance to the ground is opposite the playing field to the right of the leisure centre, just walk down the path along the outside of the clubhouse. I paid in & got a 50/50 ticket and a programme. When counting my change I fathomed out the programme must have cost 2 quid? Either that or there had been an unfortunate mistake. I like to get a programme at games, it serves as a nice record of where you've been. Without being critical, because I understand the design effort and cost of publishing, I did feel £2 was a tad steep for what's in it. Perhaps £1.50 might have been more palatable. No disrespect intended.
Bit hard to locate initially, especially if it's your first visit. You'll find it at the far end of the clubhouse by the corner flag. There is the usual menu of gut buster stuff all of which is probably very bad for you.
I decided to bin my recent healthy eating programme, primarily as I wasn't being monitored by Boss Hog (the wife) and order what turned out to be the last pasty in the pie warmer cabinet. £2.90 for a steak one. The lady informed me it was from Rowes whom I believe have a new bakery down at Penryn near Falmouth. It looks a bit dried up on the photo but apart from a couple of hard crusty bits it was really tasty with plenty of meat included.
Superb looking playing surface here which played really well all evening.
The Main Stand is an attractive choice to watch the action from, it resides by the halfway line with built in dressing rooms for players and officials.
The clubhouse had the local MP down here recently, which is an achievement in itself and you can appreciate why, it's been further improved and offers a welcoming environment to have a pre (& post) match drink with the added razzmatazz of televised football from the Millionaires League.
The Town Centre End has a large grass bank which affords great views of the pitch. Nice for a picnic early season or why not partake in the outdoor pursuit of mud sliding during one of the mid winter fixtures.
The side of the pitch opposite the stand has a raised bank which means you can see over the top of the dugouts, this is another fine spot to witness the game.
The victorian houses behind lend a nice charismatic backdrop to the stadium.
Saltash do like an information sign and they really do a fine job promoting the club and all its fixtures.
The Gateway to Cornwall end of the ground is just hard standing.
Saltash have a great red and white striped traditional kit and it was nice to see Launceston in a very smart Napoli styled number. Such an improvement on some of the atrocious designs the major manufacturers are fooling some gullible football league clubs into wearing.
The Cusack & Bunney pitchside presence is almost at celebrity status levels in the South West Peninsula League.
Gary Jeffery and Matt Hodgetts are the Launceston management team.
Quite a lot of non league clubs are developing their media profiles these days, Saltash included.
Truly a whirlwind first quarter from the home side. Some sublime attack patterns with both Ryan Richards and Sam Hughes running absolute riot.
Launceston simply couldn't cope with it early on, they gradually formulated a more robust defence strategy (which even allowed them the isolated counter attack) but the damage was terminal.
4-1 midway through the first half says it all. Half time it was 5-2 with the visitors recovering well. Some may say Saltash took their foot off the gas, they were probably reserving energy for the second half.
After the break Launceston had more possession and certainly had chances going forwards. As for Saltash there was no turbo charged repeat from that first half but they still squandered a multitude of efforts on goal. Some of the attempts were just unlucky not to go in but quite a good number were a result of misplaced shots on goal. This is nitpicking with a final scoreline of 6-2. Think I was being greedy and hoping for some more of the magic they thrilled the crowd with early doors.
Saltash look a very good side on this performance. As for Launceston, many a side would have been blown away completely tonight, the visitors regrouped well under immense pressure and competed well for large parts of the game, they have scope for improvement and shouldn't be too down hearted.
Saltash have got St Austell here next Saturday, possibly the two best performing sides in the league at the moment?