THE first ever Errea South West Challenge Cup Final produced 90 minutes of fast free-flowing football on Sunday. It wasn't to be for local sides Bideford and Barnstaple, but finalists Torquay United and Eastleigh thrilled supporters at a swelteringly hot
THE first ever Errea South West Challenge Cup Final produced 90 minutes of fast free-flowing football on Sunday.It wasn't to be for local sides Bideford and Barnstaple, but finalists Torquay United and Eastleigh thrilled supporters at a swelteringly hot Sports Ground in an entertaining game that produced a 2-2 normal time scoreline. In the shoot-out, it was Hampshire-based Blue Square Conference South side Eastleigh who proved worthy winners with a perfect five penalty kicks.Crowds made the most of a week of glorious sunny weather to take in a feast of quality football that featured 11 top-class games in six days.Among visiting stars in the Crystal Palace ranks was Finnish powerhouse Shefki Kuqi. The forward, who arrived at Selhurst Park in August 2006, spent a year in the Premiership's top flight with Blackburn Rovers before spending the first half of 2007/08 season on loan at Fulham.Kuqi featured in both his side's games against Eastleigh and Bideford at Appledore's immaculate Marshford, before Palace were forced to withdraw from the tournament due a growing injury list going into the semi-finals.After Sunday's final, tournament director Michael Bradshaw congratulated both finalists and said that he had been impressed with the behaviour of all the visiting players."They really have been a credit to their clubs," he said. "Moving around the grounds and the hotels they stayed at, I can tell you that they have all been totally knocked out by the facilities, the food and accommodation and the reception they have had. "We have welcomed, fed and transported to/from training facilities and grounds, more than 160 visiting players and management. "In all seven days, we only managed to get one team lost en-route to its training ground!"Mr Bradshaw said organisers would now reflect on the tournament before deciding how the event would go forward next year."There were so many plusses and yet so few problems," he added. "We did have complaints about the pitch at Bideford but that is a matter for them to pursue with Torridge District Council who did so little to assist the club stage something of such importance to the town.