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St Stephen 3 Foxhole 2

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St Stephen 3 Foxhole 2

Tuesday 12th August 2008

St Stephen deservedly won this final friendly after a wretched performance by the Foxes, particularly in the second half. A startling inability to pass the ball combined with a scary lack of cohesion and dominance at the heart of the defence (in stark contrast to the Saints' impressive Sincock and Stephen who stood strong throughout) means that the opening league fixture is approached with some trepidation, as only a massively improved showing will suffice. Worringly, even after six warm-up games, neither the right formation or the best eleven is immediately apparent, while it's hard to see where the goals will come from when Griffin is unavailable.

Butler had an effort saved early on but Hooper and Sincock soon forced Holland into action, while Pinhammer nearly took advantage of a mishap involving the keeper and Bullock before, in a rare flowing move, Nicholls released the otherwise disappointing Watson down the right, whose low cross was side-footed in by Butler lurking at the far post on 26. Within seconds, Coad pounced on a loose ball to ram home the equaliser, the final goalmouth incident of a largely forgettable first half until Butler, bizarrely deployed down the left in the unwieldy 4-3-3 line-up, showed good aggression before unleashing a drive which stung the hands of Grigg.

The Foxes regained the lead three minutes after the restart. Moments after Adam Holland had turned well only to fire wide, Rowe's low cross was toe-poked past his own keeper by the sliding May. However, young Sweet was not to be troubled again; the leveller duly came on 51 when the unmarked Stephen firmly nodded home Sincock's deep free-kick with the offside trap in tatters, and, with Foxhole palpably failing to match Saints' all-action, combative style, it was no surprise when Matthews flicked on Stephen's long throw for the ubiquitous Truscott to plant a fine header beyond Holland on 71.

The hobbling keeper was soon withdrawn as a precaution to be replaced by Watson, which did nothing to raise hopes of salvaging at least a draw; in any event, had Rowe's late header from Faircloth's centre flown into the net rather than over the bar, it would merely have papered over cracks which need urgent attention before Saturday's visit of Camelford.

Foxhole (4-3-3): Ryan Holland 7; David Grose 7, Lewis Prince 6, Jamie Bullock 6, Phil Hobbs 6; Adam Holland 6, Tom Watson 5, Kyle Friendship 6; Liam Nicholls 6, Mark Rowe 6, Andrew Butler 7.

Subs: Adam Bromley 5, Jason Warne 6, Richard Faircloth 5, Josh French 5.

St Stephen (4-4-2): Matthew Grigg; Joe Newnes, Andrew May, Andrew Sincock, Ryan Stephen; Nick Baillie, Pete Baillie, Matthew Truscott, Tim Hooper; Ross Pinhammer, Craig Coad.

Subs: Michael Sweet (gk), Martin Matthews, Ian Grigg, Matt Prowse, Marty Richards.

Referee: Mr Darren Bragg (Penwithick) 8.

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