TWO Teignbridge teams could move one step closer to silverware tomorrow as the Devon Football League Mini Tournament enters its quarter-final stage.
The Teigns lost 1-0 in a tightly-contested final group game at Coombe Valley on Wednesday, thanks to a first half goal from Ben Carter.
Liam Jones’ men had already secured a spot in the last eight, and an improved second half showing was enough to encourage the Teigns’ boss.
‘In the first half we just weren’t very good,’ Jones said. ‘In the first 10 minutes they’ve come out firing and we kind-of just joined in with them.
‘They got a poor goal – the lad’s not been pressed on the side of the pitch, he’s managed to cross a ball and then we’ve not quite cleared it in the box.
‘But I thought we were really good in the second half. We dictated the game and we had a bit of energy about us. We just lacked that clinical edge.
‘It’s a difficult one, because we had the mentality that we’re already through. We’d already got the point we needed and earned the absolute right to take the sixth pool game as a freebie really, and it was about trying to get momentum.
‘I said to the lads at half-time, the score is irrelevant now. Take personal and team performance into Saturday and make sure you’re at it.’
With Oke set to visit Teignmouth tomorrow, Jones believes that the chance of hosting the final at Coombe Valley should be enough to get his players in the zone.
‘The lads will be strong and they will be up for it,’ he said. ‘They’ve earned their right to be in a quarter-final, and now we have to make sure – with the quarters being a home tie and the final potentially being here [at Coombe Valley] – that we perform.
‘If we don’t perform then we’ll be sat here on May 29 watching two other teams challenge for a cup final on our ground. That should be enough to really give the lads a kick.’
Teignmouth would have welcomed Chudleigh Athletic to Coombe Valley in tomorrow’s quarter-final, but an issue with the competition’s rules saw the Kate Brook side have to pull out. Rather than leaving the Teigns with a bye, Okehampton were drafted in instead.
‘In the end we fell foul of the eligibility rules, whereby players have to play at least half of the group games to then feature in the knockout stages,’ explained Chudleigh fixture secretary Lee Harvey.
‘It’s something we were well aware of from the start and just assumed it wouldn’t be an issue at the time.
‘I asked if the rules could be relaxed, but quite fairly they said that wouldn’t be happening. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
‘Some of the lads were quite vociferous with their thoughts about it, but I had to explain that those are the rules which we entered under.
‘One thing it did highlight is how important regular player commitment is. But at the end of the day it’s just one of those things – it’s no biggie.’
Newton Abbot Spurs Reserves are set to take on Newtown in the other quarter-final involving a Teignbridge side.
Jake Elms’ men have been exiled to Ashburton while work is done on the pitch at The Rec, and their preparations this week have been far from ideal.
‘Unfortunately we weren’t able to train this week, as Coach Road had a game on during our slot and the weather washed out any chances of outdoor training,’ Elms explained.
‘It’ll definitely be a tough game, but we’ve had a sit down with the squad and feel as though hopefully we’ll get a rejuvenated performance from the lads. We definitely won’t be going out without a fight.’
DFL Mini Tournament Quarter-Finals (Saturday, May 22):
University of Exeter vs Watcombe Wanderers (3pm)
Newton Abbot Spurs Reserves vs Newtown (3pm, Ashburton AFC)
PAFC FITC Development vs Lakeside Athletic (3pm)
Teignmouth vs Okehampton Argyle (2pm, Coombe Valley)