St Blazey boss Ryan Fice admitted Friday’s 2-1 reverse at home to Gunnislake was a ‘reality check’ for his new squad ahead of this week’s first round of South West Peninsula League fixtures, writes Tom Howe.
Managers Dean Southcott and Liam Bryant brought their side to Blaise Park on the back of a successful season in the East Cornwall Premier, one which saw them miss out on the title by a single point to Torpoint Athletic ‘A’.
Promotion to the St Piran League’s East Division has followed and, after a summer of solidifying what was an already talented team, the Lakers arrived to take on their lofty opponents full of confidence.
Jack Alexander had put Blazey in front with a cool finish only for Jordan Williams and Kevin McCallion to net twice in three first-half minutes to seal an eye-catching win and leave a philosophical Fice with plenty to think about on the eve of a new campaign.
“It wasn’t our greatest 90 minutes but it also isn’t going to be the worst thing that happens to us,” he told Cornwall Sports Media at the final whistle. “Sometimes in football defeat isn’t always the worst thing. It gives you a bit of a reality check and a chance to find things out that might not be right that you can rectify in training.
“It is all about getting ready for the first game of the season. We didn’t play well and I had said to the lads before that I knew Gunnislake, that they have got a good bunch together who work incredibly hard. Fair play to them. That was a really good test for us in which we didn’t do enough with the ball or without it.
“Gunnislake were maybe a bit sharper and a bit better than some of the boys expected. A lot of teams are going to come to Blaise Park this year and be really up for it, and rightly so. If it was a league game you would do things differently but you can’t lose focus that it is a pre-season friendly and you need to get people fit.
“It’s been an interesting pre-season. We had a couple of ideas and, if I’m being totally honest, we tried them and it didn’t really work. That was good to learn early. We changed things a bit, had a better balance and now have a system to play with the personnel we have got that we feel gets the best out of them. We now look forward to the big kick-off.”
Truro City goalkeeper Morgan Coxhead played the first-half for Blazey, although it is understood he will remain only dual-registered with the priority being given to his parent club.
Summer signings River Allen, Gino Garside and Luke Cloke joined him in the starting XI while Brodie Cole, Steve Rogers and Harry Hambly were introduced from the bench.
Youngsters Kai Foster, Aidan Taylor and Joe Hill made up the rest of the match day squad, alongside some of the more seasoned figures around Blaise Park including Martin Giles, Jordan Dingle and Liam Eddy.
The first test of the new campaign pits Blazey at home to Penzance this Saturday (3.00 pm). The Magpies finished second from bottom last term – in comparison to Blazey’s fifth place – but Fice is in no way underestimating the visiting outfit.
“From the outside looking in, some of [what was happening at Penzance] didn’t look so great but lately they seem to have picked up,” said Fice.
“They have recruited a few and have this link with Helston Athletic now, too. I think they will be in a better position than they were last year and best of luck to them.
“It is always tricky, the first game of the season. You don’t know what to expect but I am sure there will be a half tidy crowd here and a good, competitive game of football.”
Two players who definitely wont be involved on Saturday are talented midfielders Callum McGhee and Kyle Marks, with Fice explaining: “Callum has got a fracture to the ankle which is an injury he has had before. We need to see where he is at in six weeks.
“Kyle has tweaked one of the ligaments in his knee and we think six to eight weeks for him.”