Ashes boss hails ‘massive coup’

Ashes boss hails ‘massive coup’

Saltash United have lined up several pre-season friendlies, with Plymouth Argyle manager Ryan Lowe (inset, top) and Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock (inset, bottom) bringing their sides to Kimberley Stadium this summer. Main image: Thomas Lang

19th May 2021

By Gareth Davies

Boss Dane Bunney has hailed Saltash United agreeing a second pre-season fixture with a Football League club as massive.

Along with a mouth-watering Kimberley Stadium date with Championship giants Middlesbrough on July 19, Bunney will prepare for Saltash’s Western League campaign with the visit of Plymouth Argyle five days earlier on July 14.

The Pilgrims will be splitting their squad with half travelling to Saltash’s Western League rivals Tavistock and the other half making the short trip across the Tamar into Cornwall.

Along with the Argyle match, Saltash have confirmed their entire pre-season schedule with five matches all taking place on home soil.

They host Brixham on July 10, before Argyle and Boro with Falmouth Town – who the Ashes beat 1-0 in the Walter C Parson League Cup final in 2019 – making the long trip east on July 24.

The Ashes’ pre-season fixtures conclude on July 26 when Dan Hart’s Launceston are the opposition.
“Getting a friendly against Argyle is massive and a real coup for the club,” said Bunney, speaking exclusively to the Voice. “We have worked really hard to build a relationship with Plymouth Argyle over the last year especially. We have hosted under-18s games and a floodlit cup game at under-16 level too and it is absolutely vital that we have a good link with our local professional club.

“That is key for us going forward to continue the forging of links with Argyle and is not only on the pitch either as we have recently been able to tap into their head groundsman Chris Ralph. He has given us some great advice on pitch care in terms of what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong.

“We are building relationships all the time and that can only help us.”

Assessing Saltash’s pre-season schedule overall, Bunney feels that the fixtures arranged will give his side ‘variety’ as they prepare for life in the Western League for the first time since 1995.

“Our pre-season will be a real test which will be important,” he added. “We have a huge game against Middlesbrough which is well-documented and then Plymouth Argyle, before some tougher tests closer to our own level. This will give us some real variety in pre-season and we have told the players that they will have to come back with a relatively good level of fitness to be able to get through a tough pre-season.

“I have been tipped off that our season may start on July 31, playing some kind of cup competition, but nothing has been confirmed yet. We are planning pre-season until the end of July and with a tough training schedule, it will stand us in good stead for the start of our league campaign.”