NEWTON Abbot Spurs Reserves missed out on a spot in the Devon Football League Mini Tournament final after the University of Exeter produced a dominant display last night.
The Students scored three goals in each half to run out 6-0 winners at the Topsham Sports Ground and set up a clash against Teignmouth in Saturday’s final.
It was the hosts who started the brighter of the two sides, with Jon Antonio and Nic Osborne seeing half chances go begging.
Spurs fashioned their first opportunity with 12 minutes gone, after good work from Gavin Collins down the left hand side saw him produce a cross which just evaded James Moxon.
Eight minutes later and the Uni had their noses in front. Sam Fetherston, who had been causing all sorts of problems down the left, cut in and sent a low shot inside Joel Hawker-Patchett’s near post.
Levi Rees saw a couple of gilt-edged chances come and go before Antonio drilled in his side’s second of the match 10 minutes later.
And the Students would go in at the break three goals up after Rees curled an effort into the far corner on 39 minutes.
The Spurs changed from a back three to a back four for the second half and fashioned an opportunity through Moxon on 55 minutes – the forward creating space for himself before shooting over.
A lower-tempo second half was punctured by the Uni’s fourth goal with 15 minutes left – Adam Neale providing Craig Kingswell who poked home.
Jake Elms produced a moment of class to feed Moxon who shot into the side netting – with the Spurs player-manager perhaps better placed to have a shot himself.
Kingswell would turn provider for his side’s fifth goal, sending a lovely ball in behind the Spurs back line for Josh Harris to tuck away.
And Nic Soler rounded off the scoring with two minutes to go after a nice cutback from Alex Duncan.
After the match, Elms was under no illusions that the better side won on the night.
‘You can tell that they were fitter, stronger, they train probably three times a week and they’ve got it all,’ he said.
‘Their pitch is big enough for them to utilise and they made it hard work for us. It was as simple as that.
‘It’s tough to come away with a 6-0 defeat, but at the end of the day they were just a better team than us and they played their pitch well.
‘We struggled to get into it. We started slowly, maybe a little too deep and invited the pressure on. We changed things at half-time but I think the game was probably gone by then anyway.
‘We gave it as much as we could, tried to nick a goal thinking it might have made it a little bit interesting, but unfortunately we didn’t come away with one.’
Despite the defeat, Elms is hopeful that the Spurs are in a strong position ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.
‘Today everyone’s gone home a little bit frustrated,’ he explained. ‘But when they wake up in the morning, they will see that the Uni are a good side and it’s tough to come away from here with anything.
‘I think everyone, up until now, has enjoyed it. We’ll take that away and come back in pre-season fighting fit and ready to go again.
‘We’ve seen some great performances throughout the tournament and that’s a credit to the lads for sticking with it.
‘They deserve the best from the club, so they’ll get it back in reward whether they’re playing in this team, the first team or wherever else. It’ll be a good season to come, I’m sure.’
Saturday’s final will see Teignmouth take on the University of Exeter at Coombe Valley. Kick-off is at 3pm.