Beer Albion Reserves provided the shock result of the day in the Devon and Exeter League when they defeated 3rd Division leaders Ottery St Mary 3-2 at a foggy Furzebrake on Saturday writes Richard Honnor. It was sweet revenge for the Fishermen who went down narrowly 2-1 at Ottery the start of this season in season and it also proved to be unlucky 13 for the visitors who had won their all of their previous 12 matches. The Fishermen’s young second string are proving to be tough opposition at the Furzebrake and remain unbeaten on their home patch this season to date.
The game however started badly for Beer when they went behind on 8 minutes to a Dan Welch header coming from from Ottery’s first corner of match. It looked as if it was going to be a difficult afternoon for the Fishermen as Ottery played some fine passing football, building from the back. But Beer’s defence held firm and their midfield and forwards pressed high to frustrate their opponents.
The Fishermen were unlucky not to equalise on 22 minutes when Richard Walker had the ball in the net but the goal was disallowed for a marginal offside. Walker was booked for his protestations. Beer were starting to grow in confidence and when Ottery’s keeper dropped the ball on 24 minutes , both Walker and Ryan King missed good chances to equalise.
The equaliser eventually came somewhat luckily through an own goal on 32 minutes. As an Ottery defender attempted to clear Billy Long’s teasing free kick inside the 6 yard box, his clearance hit fellow defender Rick O’Shea and cannoned into the net.
The Fishermen were now enjoying their best period of the match but were again denied on 37 minutes by another very close offside call. Walker laid a neat pass into the path of fellow striker Taylor Rooke who advanced and slotted the ball past the advancing Ottery glovesman. Rooke appeared to have timed his run perfectly but the referee thought otherwise.
But the Fishermen were determined not to let their opponents off the hook and they went 2-1 in front on 40 minutes with a fine goal from Simon Smith. The move started with Billy Long breaking up an Ottery move and finding Smith in midfield. With a swift pass, Smith put Walker away down the left and then advanced into the box to meet Walker’s cross with a firm header past the Ottery keeper.
Then one minute before the break, Beer increased their lead when Billy Long converted a spot-kick after Taylor Rooke whose pace and energy was a constant threat to the visitors was brought down in the penalty area.
After the break, Ottery fought back strongly and should have made more of an indirect free kick from inside the penalty box after Beer keeper Henry Bartlett handled a back-pass on 50 minutes. Ottery were now dominating possession and after a close offside call went against them on 56 minutes they unsurprisingly pulled back to 3-2 a minute later when Welch notched his 2nd goal with a well-placed lob just inside Bartlett’s right hand post.
It was Beer’s midfield and forward players who sparkled in the first half but now it was the turn of the Fishermen’s back line to shine as they soaked up everything Ottery could throw at them. A spectacular overhead attempt by Long almost restored Beer’s two-goal advantage on 59 minutes but sailed narrowly over the bar.
The Fishermen suffered a blow when front man Walker had to be helped off with an ankle injury with 30 minutes remaining, but they kept their noses in front thanks to some stout defending, two important saves by Bartlett and a couple of slices of luck when Ottery forwards narrowly failed to get on the end of some dangerous crosses which whizzed across goal.
Beer’s pace still continued to trouble Ottery on the counter-attack and Jay Catley got behind the visitors’ defence in the 83rd and 85th minutes but shot straight at the keeper on both occasions. Ottery spurned a final chance to share the points in added time when their forward headed over from close range with the goal at his mercy.
There were some fine performances on the Beer side. Bartlett played well in goal, and the back line performed well as a unit. In midfield, Alex Paget won most of the aerial challenges but sponsor John Wheeler Builders Ltd awarded man-of-the-match to Taylor Rooke primarily for his non-stop work rate. For Ottery, burly front man Corey Ringer caught the eye with his hold-up play.
Next Saturday, Beer 1st’s entertain Feniton 1st’s at the Furzebrake in the premier division. Kick off is at 3pm and the match sponsor is Colyford Butchers Ltd.
Beer 2nds have another tough match in Division 3, away at 4th-placed Sandford.