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

Sunday, 1 March 2020

ECPL Cup Semi Final

Saturday 29th February 2020
East Cornwall Premier League Cup Semi Final
Attendance: 62 (head count)
Admission: £1
Programme: Free team sheet
Tea Hut Stuff: Mug of tea £1
Parking: On the road directly adjacent to the halfway line
Weather: Icy wind, lengthy sunny intervals, couple of showers
Colours: MG green shirts & shorts, FS white shirts & black shorts

Steered the Match Shed up from Cornwall and participated in the compulsory 2 quid scam to cross the Tamar Bridge into Devon. 

Mount Gould is in Plymouth just up from the large Laira Railway Depot. The club play at the charismatically titled Tothill Enclosure bang opposite Lanhydrock Road. 'Welcome to Tot-Hell' reads the daunting sign positioned above the entrance to the dressing rooms.

The ECPL is on the lower slope of the football pyramid so don't go along expecting fully furnished stadiums. Mount Gould have done up the one building at the ground which has seen the introduction of good quality changing room facilities, ample clean toilets and a welcoming refreshment unit which acts as a tea hut for spectators pitchside. There are no other structures at Tothill although the close proximity of the housing estate directly alongside one of the touchlines does bring some colour and contrast to the vista.

MG are managed by Wayne Gamble who has built a reputation as a canny tactician who seems to kick every ball. Wayne is so keen he spent most the first half a good 3 metres on the pitch, Referee Ian Spurling diplomatically instructed the boss to retreat within the roped off technical area. Mr Spurling went on to have an impressive afternoon of officiating which can't have been easy considering the magnitude of the fixture.

Wayne's MG side are top of the league in the ECPL (East Cornwall Premier League), bit strange that a Devon side ply their trade in a Cornish League but they've definitely impressed this season. Out of 16 games they've won 14, drawn 1 and only suffered 1 defeat. 

Foxhole Stars (alongside a fast improving St Dominick) are one of their main title challengers so the fact we got both of them in a tense hotly contested Cup Semi Final was a direct bonus. I'd seen Foxhole in a recent game at St Cleer and they've got a reputation for playing the game the right way and certainly posed a major threat to Mount Gould.

Like the whole of the British Isles the South West has been battered by wind and suffered relentless periods of rain (for month upon month). Hardly a game at non league level passed a pitch inspection today. What a credit to Mount Gould that their pitch surprised most the spectators for being in such a playable decent condition. Apparently Wayne Gamble had been up early morning forking the thing, don't think you'd find the likes of winter-break jessies like Klopp & Co getting their pants messed up with the mud?

I got a free team sheet A4 fold over from the nice lady at the admission table upon entering and had a warming mug of tea from the refreshments hatch. Over 60 odd punters came along today and I don't reckon anyone would be disappointed with the commitment and intensity of this relentlessly hard fought encounter. It was never going to be tippy-tappy pretty football with half a gale blowing in off the coast but the rivalry between two of the best sides in the ECPL was plain to see.

First half honours went to MG. They had the wind and used it to full potential. Any ball ending up in the Foxhole 18 yard area was going to be difficult to defend, Mount Gould went 2-0 up. The visitors struggled to make in roads with the gusts playing havoc, chances were few and the break couldn't come soon enough.

Second half Foxhole re-grouped and with the wind at their backs started up their passing game. 

MG didn't flinch and gave as good as they got. It was never a dirty game but both sides gave it everything. When Foxhole banged home a penalty to reduce the deficit to 2-1 the visiting supporters looked a lot more hopeful that they could escape the lions lair with the spoils after all? It wasn't to be, Waynes mob romped up the field and finished off the tapestry they'd carved out in the first half. The Semi Final ended 4-1 to a very impressive Mount Gould who will now meet St Dominick in what looks to be one hell of a Final. 

*St Dominick beat Plymouth Marjon 1-7 away in the other Semi, don't ask me why there are Devon clubs in the Cornwall League (re: Plymouth Marjon), I've only been down here 4 and a half years.

A nice touch I read about on Social Media after the game was that some of the Mount Gould players welcomed the Foxhole lads into their cars for a lift to their home pub for some post match refreshments, well done indeed.