THE decision to give the go-ahead to Taunton Town’s match at Barnstaple Town – which was then called off just over an hour before kick-off – has been called an “embarrassment” by Peacocks chairman Kevin Sturmey.

The game at Mill Road was subject to a pitch inspection with a local referee at 3pm on Tuesday, due to the freezing temperatures, and was given the green light.

The pitch was still playable when the Taunton players and staff arrived at the ground, but with the temperature plummeting and snow falling, the match referee called the game off at 6.30pm – 75 minutes before the scheduled kick-off.

Barnstaple’s club Twitter account said that the situation was “out of our control” and “we did everything correctly” but Peacocks players Matt Buse, Lloyd Irish and Matt Wright were among those to air their views on social media.

Irish tweeted: “Forecast said -2 and snow all day! All other games off, and according to match referee the local referee didn’t call him this afternoon with outcome of ‘afternoon inspection’. Shambles!”

On Wednesday, Sturmey told the County Gazette: “It was an embarrassment.

“You’ve got to take the forecast into account, and it was never going to be playable.

“We’re warned by the authorities not to travel, so our players, staff and fans are at risk.

“You can’t forget that this is Non-League football, and it works around people’s work and families.”

He said that manager Leigh Robinson had come to Barnstaple from London, captain Wright from Winchester and Buse from Bournemouth.

In terms of how the decision would have been reached, Sturmey added: “The groundsman would be asked by the referee [for their thoughts] and they will look at the forecast with them.

“The referee makes the final call, but clubs can call a game off if they liaise with the league.

“There were no other Southern League games on [on Tuesday night].

“It’s very poor when Bideford called their game off in the morning, five miles down the road.

“That was to save [Bideford’s visitors] North Leigh an eight-hour round trip, but some of our players had to travel for eight hours.

“Common sense should prevail, as players make massive sacrifices at Non-League level and have been exposed to danger; there are a lot of angry people today.”

He went on to say that the postponement shone a light on some of the wider issues in the Non-League game.

“It highlights the issue of there being too many midweek games over the winter.

“This is not freak weather; it’s been forecast for weeks.

“If the Premier League is going to get a mid-season break, then we should certainly get one.”