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  • Richard Honnor

Match report

Beer Albion missed an opportunity to climb into the top half of the Devon and Exeter Premier Division when they went down 4-2 at home to fellow mid-tablers Witheridge 2nds on Saturday writes Richard Honnor. After an evenly contested first half with the scores level at 2-2, the Fishermen just couldn’t handle the pace and movement of their impressive opponents after the break. The final score line could have been much greater but for some poor finishing by the Witheridge forward’s and a couple of fine saves by Beer’s keeper Elliot Driver.

The first half produced some fine football and four excellent goals. Beer went 1-0 ahead after 6 minutes when midfielder Theo Hill rode three tackles just outside the penalty area and laid the ball square to Alex Hunt who picked his target with a well-placed shot into the corner from 18 yards. But Withy drew level just one minute later when Tom Lee hit a spectacular volley from 22 yards after Beer’s defence had headed clear from a corner kick. There was not much the Fishermen could have done about that!

In a pulsating end-to-end first half Beer were denied the lead on 15 minutes when former Exeter City keeper Steve Johns saved brilliantly, diving acrobatically to his left to push Joe Adkin’s 12 yard strike around the post. Five minutes later it was Beer glovesman Driver in action making a good save when an 18 yard effort bounced wickedly just in front of him as he dived.

As the first half wore on there was a taste of what was to come in the second half as Witheridge’s midfield began to dominate and provide well-measured through balls to their forward players whose pace constantly had Beer’s defence on the back foot. Driver again saved his side on 26 minutes with a fine save at point-blank range after Withy got behind Beer’s defence down the left. But the young keeper had no chance when left winger Billy Greene, making his debut for the visitors, fired crisply past him from 10 yards after a sweeping across the park.

The Fishermen clawed their way back to 2-2 on 34 minutes when good pressure by George Harwood forced Withy’s Bradley Kelly into a misplaced backpass. Beer striker Chris Long latched on to ball and curled a perfectly placed shot from the “inside left” position into the far corner of the goal. Beer had a chance to go in front just before half time but Alex Hunt’s header from Josh Moughton’s driven-in free kick missed the target.

Directly after the break Beer had another opportunity to go ahead but were again foiled by keeper Johns who got a strong hand to Chris Long’s well-struck free kick to push the ball around the post. But on 50 minutes Witheridge took the lead after Beer’s defence presented midfielder Daniel Ayres with far too much space and time to cut in from the left and score with ease past Driver.

Three minutes later In what proved to be the Fishermen’s last serious opportunity of the game, Chris Long headed narrowly wide after a fine run and cross from Hunt. Thereafter Beer were outplayed and outpaced. Unlike their opponents the Fishermen’s defence seemed incapable of playing the ball out from the back, resorting to long hopeful passes which were easily mopped up by the visitor’s defence. Consequently, and despite several tactical substitutions by Manager Walker, Beer’s midfield were never able to get any quality possession.

Somehow Beer managed to cling on as Witheridge, with the spare attacker always available and in space, created and missed chance after chance. But the visitors finally sealed the 4-2 victory on 81 minutes when Driver came for, but was beaten to, the ball by Bradley Kelly who tapped home from close range.

On behalf of sponsors Jimmy Green Marine, the man-of-the-match went to Withy’s Billy Greene. For Beer, midfielder Pedro Fontes’ first-half creativity stood out.

Beer 1st’s do not a have a game next weekend but Beer’s 2nd string have an intriguing 3rd Division home game against Ottery St Mary. In the corresponding away fixture earlier in the season, the Fishermen were narrowly defeated 2-1 so they will looking to provide an upset against their table-topping opponents. Kick-off at the Furzebrake is at 3pm and the match sponsor is John Wheeler Builders Ltd.

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