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Appledore  2st’s 0-2 Beer Albion 1st’s

Devon Football League

Beer Albion 1st’s enhanced their prospects of a top three finish with a superb 2-0 win away at 2nd-placed Appledore on Saturday writes Richard Honnor. After a disappointing defeat at Newtown the previous week, the Fishermen showed great discipline, skill and determination to get back to winning ways against a side who were unbeaten on their own ground this season.

Appledore dominated the first 25 minutes, with some powerful direct play. The heavy, slippery conditions suited their long ball approach. They forced several corners early on with their tall centre backs always threatening at set pieces. But the Fishermen were well drilled defensively, marking their opponents tightly at corners to minimise clear-cut chances. 

Appledore did create three good scoring opportunities early on,  first on 10 minutes when Beer keeper Elliot Driver saved well from 10 yards, then on 17 minutes when Matt Berry cleared a goal bound header off the line and finally on 21 minutes when Driver, at full stretch, pushed  a 12-yard half volley over the crossbar.

The Fishermen survived the early onslaught and began to string together some good counter-attacks. On 24 minutes, Tony Pinder appeared to be clipped by the defender as he made a strong run down the left wing but the referee thought otherwise. On 39 minutes, Pinder tested the home keeper after a slick 5-man passing move. Just before the break, Cody Bowditch’s strike fizzed across the goal after Driver’s long kick had been flicked on by Finley Rooke.

After the interval, the Fishermen were temporarily reduced to 10 men when keeper Driver was sin-binned on 51 minutes after persistently complaining to the referee. But by now Beer were containing Appledore so well that stand-in keeper Charlie Ledger did not have a shot to save. After Driver returned to the fray, Appledore began to run out of ideas and Beer were posing much more of an attacking threat. Midfielder Jake Rowe was finding more space to influence the game with some driving runs and quality passing and Finley Rooke was always a handful for the Appledore centre backs with his strong hold up play. 

It was Rooke who scored Beer’s opener on 70 minutes when he slid home Cody Bowditch’s well-flighted corner at the far post. 

The Fishermen were not to be denied now and went 2-0 ahead on 76 minutes when Rowe beat two players in midfield and played a teasing pass into the box. As he slipped, the Appledore centre back could only partially clear which presented Rooke with the ball. The home defence hesitated, allowing the Beer striker to play ball  past the advancing keeper and the ever-alert Aaron Daniels, following in, ensured that the ball got over the line.

The Fishermen did have a  couple late scares, first when Appledore had the ball in the net but the referee had already blown for an infringement on the edge of the box and then Driver made another great block at the near post when a goal seemed certain.

It was a fine team effort across the park with particularly strong performances from centre backs George Richards and Liam Cox. Jake Rowe and Finley Rooke were prominent going forward, but Beer’s outstanding player was Tony Pinder who covered every inch of the park and rallied his team well in the absence of injured skipper Charley Skilton.

Next Saturday, Beer entertain league leaders Exeter University 1st’s in what promises to be an intriguing top-of-the-table  tussle. Kick-off at the Furzebrake is at 3pm and match sponsors are Peter Adkin and Richard Honnor.

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