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Ref saves Gulls from injury threat

01 Apr 2009 15:25:33

Ref saves Gulls from injury threat

TORQUAY UNITED assistant manager Shaun North had no complaints about the last-minute postponement of last night's Westinsure Devon St Luke's Cup quarter-final at Elmore. Barnstaple referee Brett Huxtable refused to let the game go ahead after ruling the Horsdon Park pitch unplayable following a routine pre-match inspection at 6.45pm. Huxtable was particularly unhappy with the size of the divots on parts of the Western League ground, and North backed the official's decision. "The pitch was not the best, to be fair," said North. "I know you can't really draw a comparison but, if it was winter, would you even turn up? It was more than just a bit bumpy. "Of course we're disappointed that it has not been played, as we've all taken a day off from training today to play the game. "We haven't cried off - we brought a decent side here and were fully prepared to play the game." With boss Paul Buckle away on a scouting mission at Burton Albion's game with Kettering, North took six first-teamers to Tiverton for the game - Iyseden Christie, Tyrone Thompson, Steve Adams, Mark Ellis, Matt Green and Mustapha Carayol. "I know you can still pick up injuries even if the pitch is playable because football is a contact sport," he added. "But on this occasion we fully support the referee's decision." Huxtable's verdict wasn't met with quite the same support from the Elmore camp, who were adamant the game should have gone ahead. The Eagles' experienced midfielder Steve Rowland said: "The referee thinks its unsafe for all players because there are too many divots on the pitch. "Our argument is that we play on pitches like this every week. At this time of the year, pitches are going to be like this. "I can understand what the referee is saying - yes it's bobbly and you could quite easily twist an ankle on it - but unless it rains non-stop for the next week, not much is going to change. "At this level of football we can't afford to have the pitch rolled, or have sprinklers on it the whole time." The Gulls will be starting to think their St Luke's campaign is cursed - their previous round at Cullompton Rangers was postponed four times due to a variety of bad weather conditions. Elmore say they have offered United the chance to replay the tie at Horsdon Park next Tuesday night, although this will have to be agreed by the Gulls and the Devon FA. The winners will meet Exeter City in the semi-finals. TORQUAY UNITED slipped to fourth in the table after last night's Blue Square Premier programme saw Histon go above them when they beat Mansfield 3-0. LAST NIGHT'S RESULTS Blue Square Premier: Burton 1 Kettering 1; Eastbourne 2 Crawley 1; Ebbsfleet 1 Altrincham 0; Grays 0 Rushden & D 0; Histon 3


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