Toolstation Western League: Saltash 1-0 Clevedon Town

Just when the Seasiders needed to get their championship challenge back on track after two defeats, they produced their worst performance of the season to lose again at lowly Saltash, writes Paul Davis.

Missing Glen Hayer and Syd Camper and faced by a strong biting wind and fast pitch the result was a poor game of few chances. But Saltash showed more desire than Clevedon and Joe Preece took advantage of the one occasion when conditions worked in their favour to grab the only goal of the game.

Both teams took some time to come to terms with the conditions and it was 11 minutes in before the first chance fell to Saltash when Joe Preece crossed from the left and Jake Curtis headed on to the top of the net. Just after 20 minutes a long diagonal pass from keeper James Dunn picked out Freddie King unmarked wide on the left to cross for Alex Camm to head down for Sam Beresford whose shot lacked power and was cleared.

King then put a cross just too far ahead of Beresford, whilst at the other end Kieran O’Melia curled a free kick wide after Kieran Ireland was penalized. Clevedon enjoyed a spell of possession just after the half hour but couldn’t fashion a clear chance from three corners in succession, so at half time the game remained goalless.

Saltash took the lead two minutes after the restart when a long ball forward was caught by the wind and took an awkward bounce off the pitch to put Preece in the clear and shoot past the advancing Dunn to make it 1-0.

Clevedon almost equalized on the hour when King sent Beresford racing into the box, but Saltash keeper Duffy pushed Beresford’s shot round the post.  There was a spell of ping pong in the Clevedon box, and Callum Kingdon’s long clearance fell for Vozza whose low cross was wide.

Clevedon introduced all their substitutes but failed to change the pattern of the game until on 81 minutes Sol Kent picked out Owen Punselie to shoot straight at Duffey and then Joe Teall’s ball into the box deflected off Ben Fowles but didn’t trouble Duffy.

Late on Saltash started introducing their substitutes which only served to break up the game further, and frustrated Clevedon were unable to pick up any momentum to fashion an equalizer, so the final score remained Saltash United 1 Clevedon Town 0.

Manager Alex White said: “We were never going to go through the season unbeaten and we knew this sort of run would come.  We’re there now but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves.”

“We’ve looked a bit toothless recently, and the chances and goals have dried up. We’ve got to find a solution, whether that’s a different way of playing or changing the personnel or shape.”

“Saltash came up with a game plan made it difficult and scored the one chance they had, although we shouldn’t have lost, so now we go on to Wellington on Saturday and remain positive.”