‘East Cornwall Derby’
Ground #: 36
Ground: Kimberley Stadium
Competition: Southwest Peninsula Premier League (Level 10)
Kick Off: 3pm
Saltash United 4
Farnham 31’, Menhenick 49’, Hughes 60’, Coulton 74’
Liskeard Athletic 0
Kanakh s/off 70’
I’ll start this by being honest, when I woke up on Boxing Day morning, I couldn’t even tell you where Saltash was on a map such was its insignificance to me. I had planned to go to Somerset to watch Wellington’s game against Ilfracombe, or if worse came to it, Taunton’s clash vs Frome Town. However the “P” machine shot them down early on due to waterlogged pitches when the frost and snow began to melt over the past few days. Not to worry, tons of games on in Devon such as Credition, Cullumpton, etc. All of them however by 11am went and it was down to Launceston to give me a game to go to today from my list. That crashed and burned by 11:30 and it was either find a game quick or spend the afternoon with Jeff Stelling. I found Saltash on the “Football Grounds Map” application on facebook (its very good) and decided to drive the 50 miles to see a game. Their local derby against Liskeard Athletic.
Saltash is a small town on the Cornwall/Devon boarder and is commonly known as the “Gateway to Cornwall”. Famous landmarks now include the Tamar Bridge which allows people to cross from Devon to Cornwall over the River Tamar, and also the story of the Saltash Ferry which allowed fisherman to cross the Tamar at around 1190AD. Apart from that there isn’t really much here to distinguish it from other small towns, although it is the largest in East Cornwall. The drive down from North Devon was rather straight forward (been a while since I got lost looking for a ground!?) and I passed through Launceston which means I know how to get to their ground which will probably be done over Easter. When arriving at the Kimberley Stadium, I was rather impressed as it actually looked like a proper ground compared to Holsworthy (the other ground I’d visited in this league) and also ample parking. The ground has one stand, which has benches and the tea-hut built into it, where as the rest of the ground is hard standing with no cover and its railed off. The clubhouse was also very nice and modern (and warm!) as I popped in to have a gander and then did the nerdy thing of walking around the ground taking pictures of the place and standing out like a sore thumb.
Saltash United moved to the Kimberley Stadium in 1951 when the first season of the South Western League began where Saltash finished 7th out of 12. They floated up and down in the SW League before joining the Western League in 1976, where they won the 1st Division at the first attempt and became a permanent fixture of the Western Premier from then. They had won the division 3 times before dropping back down to SW League level in 1995 as the costs of running a team at a higher level became too much. A 5th place finish in the SW Peninsula Premier last season suggests that the club would be in the higher reaches of the division this season and they were currently 14th (out of 20), however did have at least 5 games in hand over teams above them, so expect them to rocket up the table when they could actually play some matches. Their opponents were based only 14 miles away in East Cornwall, at Liskeard and had made the short journey down the A38 to this game. Liskeard had also been a Western League side until 1995 also and when they dropped back down to SW League level they had been doing ok until the newly formed SW Peninsula League was formed in 2007. Finishes of 13th and 16th and their current position of 17th (with no games in hand) suggest the team is struggling to avoid the drop down to SWP Division 1. However, with derby games, form goes out the window and this game was right up for grabs.
For the 1st half I sat in the packed stand and watched a far better quality game than I had been expecting with both teams playing some decent stuff early on, even more impressive with the fact that the pitch was resembling a bog so any balls played along the floor were getting caught up along the floor. Saltash though began to press and right winger Carlton Farnham began to rip Liskeard’s left back repeatedly to create chances. He first missed a one-on-one chance which Liskeard’s goalie Ian Baker did well to smother. However it was 1-0 on 31 minutes when Farnham picked the ball up on the right wing, cut inside on the edge of the area and got a fairly weak shot away which Baker managed to balls up and let it roll in, 1-0. Saltash then looked to add more to their tally in the 1st half while Liskeard had been clearly knocked back by conceding that goal and let Saltash’s Hughes again get away for a one-on-one chance but this time he put it straight at the keeper. Towards the end of the half, Liskeard did finally have some possession and won a free kick from the edge of the area, but it came to nothing. It was only 1-0 at half-time and both sides could look to take the win.
I moved around to the uncovered hard standing section behind the dugouts for the 2nd half where I instantly felt the cold sea wind hammering right at me and wondered whether this was a wise decision, in the end, an entertaining half of football made me all but forget the cold (until the final whistle where I couldn’t feel my feet) as Saltash continued where they had left off and battered the Liskeard goal. Ex Bideford striker Jamie Densham had the first chance of the 2nd half but his shot was well saved by Baker. From the corner however Saltash defender Chris Menhenick rose highest and his header seemed to be looping straight into the keepers hand, until for some unknown reason Baker decided to jump and catch it. His jump was awful and the ball sailed over him and went in for Saltash’s 2nd goal. Liskeard had chances to get one back as Saltash began to get sloppy in their play but good blocks and a shot off the line meant Saltash kept their 2 goal lead. There was a horror moment at around 55 minutes in when a Schumacher/Battiston 1982 World Cup moment, Liskeard goalkeeper Baker ran out and smashed straight into Saltash striker Sam Hughes who was clattered to the ground instantly. He was ok, just blood coming out of his nose and was cleaned up before being sent back on with plugs up his nose to stop the bleeding. He had only just come back on (only a drop-ball was awarded) when a Farnham shot which had been set up by Densham was spilled by Baker and there was Hughes, plugs an’ all, to tap in for #3 on the hour mark. Then Liskeard started to come back into the game, into a moment of utter stupidity from Liskeard midfielder Demitri Kanakh who rose highest to handle the ball when Liskeard had won a corner. When you are 0-3 down, thats just silly. When you’ve also been booked previously to that, then that is ridiculous and he was sent off. Saltash added a 4th when Gavin Coulton caught a Liskeard defender in possession and fired home from 15 yards. Densham nearly added a 5th, but Baker did save well as Saltash cruised home to victory.
A decent afternoon’s entertainment then down in East Cornwall as I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the ground and football on show here. Might just need to start looking Southwards and Westwards instead of the opposite direction for games in the future! I also didn’t want to gauge my eyes out after this game, unlike the previous week’s abortion witnessed at Minehead. It got even better by the fact Hearts had managed to win at the Falkirk Stadium for 2 in a row! :o
- Match: 6.5/10 (quite entertaining)
- Value for money: 6/10 (the norm at Level 10)
- Ground: 6/10 (pleasant surprise, it actually resembled a ground!)
- Atmosphere: 5/10 (bits here and there)
- Food: 7/10 (quite tasty Cornish Pasty for a decent price served by an attractive blond – whats not to like?)
- Programme: 3/10 (at least they produced one, I suppose…)
- Referee: Andrew Tinkler – 5/10 (did ok)