Football: Truro City v Bideford match report
Truro City 0 Bideford 2
THE phrase "anti-football" might have been invented to sum up this miserable derby game on Bank Holiday Monday.
With perfect conditions and before an expectant crowd of more than 500, it should have been the ideal opportunity to showcase all that is good about the game.
Instead, all that was largely on show was the negative side of football, with entertainment the last thing seemingly on the players' minds as they became embroiled in what was little more than a 90 minute squabble.
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Referee Steve Annis issued seven yellow cards and a red to City's Dan Evans and that was only because he was over lenient in dealing with the players' petulance and lack of respect for both him and each other.
It would be easy to blame the shortcomings of the official, but the players from both sides, even though Bideford were the main offenders, must take their share of responsibility for producing a turgid, ill-tempered affair, which did either side little credit.
Surrounding and harassing the official at every opportunity, exaggerating injury and continual spoiling tactics, made for a poor spectacle and one which would not encourage the neutral to come back in a hurry.
City went into the game unbeaten, as did their opponents, but the home side never mustered an opening worthy of the name in the 90 minutes, plus eight minutes of added time.
It was the North Devon side who took their chances, with Craig Duff scoring just before half time after some hesitant City and substitute Richards Groves making the points safe with a late free-kick.
By that stage City were down to ten men after Evans saw red for allegedly barging over Owen Howe, and the referee presumably ruling he had denied the striker a clear goal scoring opportunity, though that was very much open to question.
They were about the only highlights of a game in which City got enticed into a scrap against their more street wise opponents and their lack of experience at this level was all too apparent.
And it left City boss Steve Massey a very unhappy man.
He said: "I am totally and utterly frustrated. We got sucked into it.
"I am not blaming the ref, but I thought he was weak and all three officials poor.
"We did not get anywhere near our potential which was very disappointing.
"We were very naive. We gave the ball away far too often, It was a really disappointing, poor afternoon. There were a couple of shouts from the crowd that we were not good enough and I had to agree with them.
"There is no one more disappointed than me.
"I told the players they had let themselves down. We got bullied and intimidated and it affected our performance.
"I was absolutely amazed at the sending off. It was shoulder to shoulder, going away from goal. I did not think it was a free kick, let alone a sending off. He (the ref) had a few strange decisions for both sides."
Massey made four changes from the team that won at Hinckley, with Luke Payne becoming City's third keeper of the season, with No1 Ollie Chenoweth again unavailable because of work commitments.
Matt Andrew made his debut start after suspension against his former team, from whom he received plenty of unwanted attention, while Raiff Gwinnett made his first start at right back, with Liam Eddy recalled to lead the attack, alongside Lewis Coombes.
Joe Broad, who has also been out suspended, returned to the bench, coming on as a second half substitute.
City have yet to field the same side this season as Massey shuffles his pack in search of a consistent, winning formula.
And on this performance he still has some way to go.