RYAN Bush’s first-half strike was nullified by a breathless Mousehole performance on Saturday as the Cornishmen came from behind to beat Buckland Athletic 4-1 at Homers Heath.
Bush capped off the hosts’ excellent opening period with his 18th goal of the season but a double from Hayden Turner and goals from Mark Goldsworthy and Reece Thomson ensured that all three points headed back across the Tamar as Mousehole shape up for an assault on the Western League title.
‘I felt that is was another good learning curve for us as a squad,’ admitted Buckland head coach Dan Hart. ‘I thought that the way that we set up tactically with the players available to us today nullified them and for 25 minutes we were the better team.’
Buckland started the better of the two sides and had a good chance to go in front in 10 minutes when Bush received a pass through from Josh Webber but could only side-foot his gilt-edged opportunity wide of the right post.
The breakthrough came on 25 minutes. Sam Stayt found himself in space in the centre of the field and threaded a spellbinding ball through for Bush, who controlled well and expertly lifted a chip over onrushing goalkeeper Ollie Chenoweth.
‘We were really intense and on the front foot, got a goal and we really deserved it at that point,’ said Hart. ‘We could have had a couple more but we didn’t take our opportunities.’
Six minutes later, parity was restored by Turner, whose free-kick from 25 yards went under the wall, avoided the bodies in the box and trickled into the bottom corner at the far post.
Now it was the Seagulls who had their tails up and they plundered the Buckland goal right through to half-time.
Buckland, who had desperately needed half-time to regroup, found themselves trailing just two minutes after the restart. A snapshot from range appeared to catch Bucks goalkeeper Andy Collings off-guard and he spilled the awkwardly-bouncing effort, with Goldsworthy the beneficiary as he was gifted a two-yard tap-in for his fourth goal in as many games.
‘We came out for the second half and there were a couple individual errors,’ Hart explained. ‘[Mousehole are] a team that really combine well and they’re a team that are professional in what they do and the fact they train twice a week – you can see that in the way they combine. And in the end they ran away and fully made the most of our limited resources today.’
The second half was almost entirely one-way traffic with Mousehole good value for their lead. They missed a good chance to capitalise on their pressure on 71 minutes when a dangerous cross pinballed around the area before being cleared off the goal line.
Andrew Elcock came agonisingly close to netting the goal of the season when he thundered a mouthwatering volley from the edge of the box which flew inches wide of the post.
Mousehole sealed victory in the 87th minute when Turner’s shot from distance took a cruel deflection off Buckland substitute Tom Strike and wrong-footed Collings.
The Cornishmen added insult to injury in stoppage time when Turner rifled a dangerous ball across the face of goal for Thomson to tap home with little resistance.
‘What we have seen today is a really good Mousehole side that have come here, stuck together – even when we were on top in the game – and showed why they don’t lose many games,’ Hart said. ‘In the end, they got their just rewards.
‘You’re always going to suffer when you’re missing key players and your leaders. But for spells of the game I felt we coped with that really well, which is really pleasing and it is a learning curve really for us to see how our players react when we don’t have everyone available and how they grow into their roles in our squad for the future and next season.’
Buckland will not have to wait long before they get the opportunity to shake off the defeat as they return to home action on Tuesday, with Torpoint Athletic the guests at Homers Heath.
‘It’s perfect that it’s on Tuesday,’ Hart said. ‘It’s not so perfect that it is an opposition that we beat heavily on Tuesday last week because they will come here hurting and they’ll want to get their own back on us.
‘They’ve had a good [2-0] win at Ilfracombe [Town] today, so I know that it’ll be a tough test for us and we will have to be at it to get three points and I think it’ll be really key that we do that.
‘It is always [a positive that there is another game so soon] and we’ve shown this year, multiple times, that we bounce back really well and we know that from defeat there are positives there and will be there on Tuesday.
‘I back our lads to put in a really good performance and give us the three points that we need to kick up into the places that we belong in.’