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Beer Albion 1st’s 0-1 University of Exeter 1st’s

Beer Albion’s unbeaten run this season came to an end last Saturday at the Furzebrake when they were defeated 1-0 by Exeter University 1st’s writes Richard Honnor.

After the Fishermen’s two narrow victories against Uni twice this season in cup and league respectively, it was the Students who came out on top this time, scoring a fine goal late in the game to snatch the victory.

In front of crowd of 130 and in perfect playing conditions, Uni got off to a flying start, almost scoring within the first minute. Beer keeper Elliot Driver had to make a good save with his feet from the centre forward after a slick move caught Beer’s defence cold.

From thereon, the Students dominated the first half possession. They did not allow Beer’s midfield any space and time on the ball and the home side had to work hard defensively. There was more of a physical edge to their game than one normally associates with an Exeter University side and Beer’s talented offensive players were tightly and robustly marked. The Students also played a more direct style than in the previous two encounters, employing the long ball more often.

That said, goalscoring opportunities were few and far between. Beer’s back line was resolute and both keepers had little to do. The Fishermen did have one good chance themselves on 10 minutes when Tony Pinder almost took advantage of a defensive slip. But his well-struck effort from 15 yards was saved at full stretch by the Uni keeper. Similarly, the Fishermen had a lucky escape on 15 minutes when a goal-bound header deflected off of Alex Paget’s shoulder for a corner.

Beer’s only other attempt of note in the first half was in the 30th minute when Giles Basson’s clever lob from 25 yards sailed narrowly over the bar.

The Fishermen suffered a heavy blow on 34 minutes when Finley Rooke was forced off with a persistent ankle injury but Brooklyn Wilkins proved a capable deputy in the back five.

After the break, Beer upped their game and began to get some creative joy in midfield. Tempers flared on occasions and referee Fullam brandished yellow cards to players on each side. There were a few tackles flying in and a couple off-the-ball incidents as both sides became frustrated at their inability to crack open tight defences. Uni were in an uncompromising mood and, in particular, Beer’s Jake Rowe and Tony Pinder came in for some heavy treatment.

Into the final quarter, Beer did create the better chances and on 72 minutes, a powerful shot from Charley Skilton was kept out by the keeper. Five minutes later Alex Paget powered through the Uni defence forcing the keeper to make another good save.

But after what was their best period of the game, Beer were undone by a fine goal on the break. Picking up a long pass, Uni’s dangerous number 9, Callum Chambers, broke down the right, outpaced the Beer defence and squared the ball to midfielder Alex Duncan who finished from 12 yards into the corner.

After the game, manager Mark Rooke and his players conceded that the Uni were the better side on the day but there was no disgrace in losing to current league champions who were undoubtedly the best side to visit the Furzebrake this season.

Match day sponsors Richard Honnor and Peter Adkin thought that Uni’s centre back pairing were impressive but awarded man-of-match to Uni’s striker Callum Chambers who was a constant threat and created the winning goal. For Beer, centre back Liam Fox caught the eye for his intelligent defensive play and his sheer determination.

Next weekend Beer 1st’s travel to bottom-placed Fremington. As long as they are not complacent and show due respect for their opponents, this game provides Beer with the ideal opportunity to bounce back to winning ways.

Meanwhile, Beer 2nds who have only played one game since November are at home to East Budleigh next Saturday in Devon and Exeter Division 1. Kick-off is at 2:15 pm and the match day sponsor is SeaSabre Boats.

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