Pirates End League Campaign With Defeat As Berntsen See’s Red
(Sunday 5th April 2015)
The Pirates final League game of the season ended in disappointment in the sunshine as visitors Real Saltash Reserves took the points in an ill tempered affair at Skull N’Bones Park. Having come out victorious in a 7-3 thriller in the reverse fixture earlier in the season Saltash were looking to get the double completed & when all the dust had settled they would leave the game happier side.
It was The Pirates who made the brighter start, attacking in a 4-2-3-1 system, boosted by the returns of Errington, Lacy & Knight as well as a return to the team for Gary Holder, who starting at Left Back made His 1st appearance since August 2014 after recovering from ankle surgery. The 1st chance of the game came on 11mins when Callum Knight broke free down the right hand side & delivered an excellent cross to the back post but to His frustration there were no takers for a tap in, just a minute later Saltash grabbed the lead, a slide rule pass inside Holder at the left side of the penalty resulted in the forward getting ahead of the play & sliding a low shot past Johns at the near post. 0-1. Despite the set back it didn’t take the men in Red long to respond, on 21mins Dan Amador’s pressing forced the corner which was swung in by Steve Lacy finding the on rushing Sam Bruty who’s perfectly timed run from the edge of the box resulted in a bullet header in to the roof of the net for 1-1.
A good end to end start to the game, but just seconds after the equalizer came a flash point that would severely derail The Pirates momentum in the match, a seemingly innocent coming together between the Saltash attacker & Right Back James Berntsen suddenly turned ugly, at the time it seemed to be handbags but as Referee pulled out his Red card to dismiss The Pirates man it was clear something had gone on, subsequent evidence was uncovered that the Saltash player had reacted to a challenge by stamping on Berntsen who’s reaction of a headbutt was the reason for the sending off, the correct decision but with no card for the opponent it seemed somewhat unjust. An uphill task now awaited the Home side, keeper Richard Johns forced in to an excellent tip over from a screamer just minutes after the red card. Despite the numerical deficiency the score remained the same until 2mins before the break, Gary Holder making a superb last ditch tackle but to everyone’s astonishment the Referee pointed to the spot! PENALTY! A wretched decision but never the less as the ball hit the net from the successful spot kick & the whistle for Half-Time went shortly after it was clear the 2-1 scoreline was tough to swallow & very harsh on Carpenter’s men.
A rejig of system at the break saw Steve Lacy fill in at Right Back & Dave Isaacs asked to play a deeper role, the pressure of having 10 men was clearly going to tell in the 2nd half & but for two superb goal line clearances, 1st from Steve Lacy & then Nick Errington the score could’ve been far worse than it was, but after 47mins the pressure told & Saltash took a 1-3 lead, after a punch clear from a corner by keeper Johns, who himself was clearly struggling with a knee injury, the ball was struck back goalwards & with the aid of a small deflection the 2 goal cushion was in place for the Away side. Despite the set back the 10 men came again, Dave Isaacs forcing a superb save from the Saltash keeper on 55mins & a minute later Callum Knights excellent turn & shot was again well stopped. On a day where things were already tough for Carpenter’s side it got worse on 65mins, Richard Johns’ knee injury forced Him off the field & with back up keeper Rhys Jones not named on the subs bench it was Sean Cross who came on to don the Keepers jersey for the last half hour.
With 67mins on the clock Cross was beaten for the 4th goal, a now hobbling Steve Lacy was unable to intercept a ball down the right hand edge of the penalty area & the Striker’s rasping drive flew in to the net to effectively seal the points for Saltash. Despite the set back The Pirates refused to lie down, Callum Knight striking the post on 69mins & on 73mins Dave Isaacs corner was narrowly headed over by the impressive Dan Amador. Despite the best efforts the game was fast getting away from the now shattered Pirates, Aaron Reed & Steve Tapper were introduced & after some good work from the latter on 81mins Knight went close again,. forcing a superb low save from the Saltash keeper to keep the scoreline the same, however on 83mins the 5th Saltash goal sealed the points, in truth a world class shot, 25yards out & finding the top left hand corner, Cross had no chance. There was however time for a late consolation goal for the Home side, Steve Tapper’s excellent cross from the right edge of the area was turned in to His own net by the Saltash Centre Back for 2-5, which would remain the score as the full-time whistle was blown. Harsh on The Pirates in truth.
Bruty (21) Own Goal (89)
Johns, Berntsen, Ewing, Errington, Holder, Luckham, Isaacs, Lacy, Amador, Knight, Bruty (c).
Reed, Cross, Tapper.
Match Sum Up
This match was a tough one to give a fair sum up on to be honest, at 11 vs 11 it was a well matched & even game, but the sending off & subsequent change of formation & reorganisation caused no end of problems, Saltash were essentially a group of very average, angry & gobby Footballers & I use that term lightly, that being said 2 of their 5 goals were superb. Losing Johns to injury was a further disruption to the pattern of the game but despite all this my view is this game would & could have been very different under different circumstances. On the plus side, the fight & desire of The Pirates on the day to fight back in to a game that was getting away from them was admirable & bodes well for the future. We look forward to seeing these ‘Gentlemen’ again next season. Unlucky BP.
Man Of The Match
The Man Of The Match award this week goes to Nick Errington. Nick made His return to play the CB role today in the absence of Brad Smith & was the clear stand out performer on the day, leading a Defence interrupted twice by the Red Card & Injury, Nick won almost all the aerial duels & was calm & composed in His tackles 2nd half to build the platform for The Pirates to try to get back in to the game. It’s clear The Pirates are a better side when Nick is in the team & on His game. Congrats Nick.
Man Of The Match: Nick Errington