‘The shackles were off’ – Wadebridge boss on stunning seven-goal win

Wadebridge Town manager Paul Rowe lauded his side’s clinical display in their stunning 7-0 win at St Austell on Saturday, writes Matt Friday.

After taking a two-goal lead into the break, the Bridgers scored five goals in a superb second half at Poltair Park to stun their shell shocked hosts, who hadn’t conceded a goal this season prior to kick-off.

Jacob Smale opened the scoring with his first goal of the game before Jack Rapsey bagged his first goal since returning to the Bridgers as the visitors.

Sam Gerken and Matt Lloyd extended the Bridgers’ lead to four by the hour before Smale struck twice to complete his hat-trick, with recent recruit Morgan Vallejo adding a seventh in the dying embers of the game.

“I didn’t think we were great in the first half if I’m honest,” Rowe told Cornwall Sports Media. “We got our noses in front and then St Austell really came at us for 20 minutes, but we got a second goal at a great time and that settled us down and I think it affected St Austell as well. Not only did they not score when they were on top but they ended up conceding, and I think that was a pivotal moment.

“In the second half it was like the shackles were off and Rappo got his first goal and he came alive. Lloydy was unbelievable off one flank and obviously Jacob Smale off the other, it was something we’d been planning for and it all came together in the second 45.”

He added: “I just think the lads started playing with confidence, I know Jacob has got got off the mark [this season] but Rappo and Lloydy hadn’t, and once they got their first goals you could see it was a bit of a weight lifted for them and the linkup play was better and we just ran riot. We managed to capitalise on a few St Austell mistakes as well, I was really pleased.”

The manner of the victory was all the more surprising given their opponents’ fine start to the season, with St Austell having won all three of their previous games without conceding a goal before Saturday.

Rowe acknowledged that the Lillywhites didn’t enjoy their best game, but praised his own side’s clinical finishing – something that especially pleased the Bridgers boss after failing to take their chances in recent weeks.

“I spoke to Sparks [St Austell boss Mark Smith] after the game briefly and he was disappointed,” Rowe said. “I think they can play better, I’m not going to say it was all us, they’ll have better days for sure, they’re a good side, but we were just clinical on the day and it is about taking your chances and killing games off.

“We had opportunities down at St Blazey to get something the other week and we didnt take them, we were in a good position at Liskeard in midweek when they were down to ten and we kind of capitulated then, so to bounce back from Wednesday by going to a good side like St Austell and doing what we did is especially pleasing.”

Wadebridge now sit fifth in the South West Peninsula League Premier West with three wins and nine points to their name after five matches. An opening-day 3-1 win over St Dennis was followed by a narrow 1-0 loss at early leaders St Blazey, who have won all four games thus far.

The Bridgers bounced back with an impressive 3-1 victory over last season’s surprise package Wendron United before losing 3-0 at Liskeard Athletic last Wednesday, with Rowe’s side recovering by putting seven past St Austell at the weekend.

“They were a tough set of fixtures,” Rowe said. “I think as a manager you always want a bit more and you always ask the what ifs, if we could have got that equaliser at St Blazey and things like that, but I think nine points is a decent platform to kick on from considering the sides that we’ve played.

“If we could have got a point at Liskeard or a point at Blazey I’d be even happier, because that’s taking points away from those guys around the top as well.

“I said to the lads after the game that there’s probably eight or nine sides chasing those three or four places to move up a league next year and we’ve probably played two of those in the last couple of weeks in Wendron and St Austell and we’ve managed to win them both.

“You’re loath to say they’re six-pointers but they are in a way, even this early in the season, because they are the teams that are going to be in and around there fighting for it as well.

“Winning those two games against those two teams is especially pleasing and nine points out of 15 is a decent platform to really get our heads down now and see what we can do over the coming weeks.”

Wadebridge’s next league match is at home to Callington Town next Tuesday, but first up is the visit of SWPL Premier East outfit Cullompton Rangers on Saturday for their FA Vase first qualifying round tie.

The national cup competition for clubs at steps 5 and 6 has not been a happy hunting ground for the Bridgers, who haven’t got past the qualifying rounds in their last ten attempts.

But Rowe is aiming to break that run this year and has set his side a mini target of beating Cullompton on Saturday and then Callington in the second qualifying round next month.

“[Our target] is to get out of that mini-draw,” Rowe said. “We had a similar situation last year when we had St Austell and Newquay and I challenged the lads to win those two and see if we can get an away trip somewhere.

“It didn’t happen, we lost to Newquay in the second qualifying round, but again we’ve set ourselves that target and we’ll take it seriously and we’ll obviously try and win those few games and see if we can go on an adventure.

“It’ll be good to have a go at it, we won’t be winning it, that’s for sure, but it’d be nice to have four or five games in the Vase, that’d be lovely.”

[Featured image: Matt Friday / Cornwall Sports Media]

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