THEY beat Covid-19, the weather and one of the top sides in their league to reach a cup final – but Tavistock Community FC can hold their heads up after falling at the last hurdle.
Tavi were beaten 6-0 by Torquay United’s Academy outfit in the final of the under-18s Devon County Cup final at Coach Road in Newton Abbot on Sunday, but not before giving their highly-rated rivals something to chew on.
The Devon Junior & Minor side have another chance to nail some silverware tonight (Thursday), when they take on Ivybridge in a league cup final.
And they will have been inspired by their performance against the young Gulls in a match that was far from one-sided.
Tavistock started their journey to Coach Road back in October last year, when more than 50 teams battled it out for the right to reach Sunday’s final. With a bye in the first round, Tavistock went on to play a number of competitive games, including some rearranged fixtures due to the weather and Covid to reach the semi-final back in March.
That match saw Tavistock take on Elburton Villa, one of the top sides in the Devon Junior & Minor (DJM).
Playing some smooth pass-and-move football and digging in to battle for the win in the second half, Tavistock came out 4-1 winners away from home to set up the showcase final against one of the top academy sides in the country.
Torquay United academy lie second in a league three tiers above the Tavistock side, so they started as massive underdogs, although they were looking forward to playing in front of a crowd of around 150 people.
The early exchanges were tight with Torquay moving the ball around at pace but Tavistock kept their shape and worked hard to defend.
After restricting Torquay to a number of long-range efforts, Tavi broke free in the middle with a ball laid into George McLaughlin who turned and made a strong run down the right, beating two players before crossing the ball into Haydn Halfyard who shot leaving the keeper to scramble to his left and make the save.
This gave Tavistock confidence and they continued to hit Torquay on the break with strong runs from Luke Tyler, Halfyard and Fin Clarke on the left.
But with just over 15 minutes gone Torquay played their quick, overlapping football, the ball was crossed into the middle and a long range shot from outside the box whipped inside Fynn Hall’s left hand post for the Gulls to take the lead.
Despite some great battling from Tavistock and some cracking saves from Hall, two more goals were conceded in the first half.
Despite being 3-0 down, Tavistock came out on the second half determined to press Torquay and defend as a unit, with captain Charlie Bulley putting in a good shift alongside Matt Daniel in the centre of defence.
With their backs against the wall Tavistock continued to try and hit Torquay on the break, making the most of set pieces as they drew fouls from the opposing defence.
Matt Daniel and Will Paxman came close with flick-on headers from some accurate free-kick deliveries from Sam Brereton from the left and right.
Substitutes Fletcher Such, Abe Reid, Seb Whitford and Dillon Hemming did their best to influence the game, but the quality from Torquay’s Academy eventually told, as Tavistock conceded three more goals in the second half to lose 6-0.
A Tavistock club spokesman said afterwards: ‘It was no shame to lose to a team of this quality and the achievement to get to a county cup final, the tenacity shown and the togetherness of the Tavistock squad was recognised by all the dignitaries on the day.
‘Congratulations to all the squad for an amazing journey to a prestigious final.’
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