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Beer Albion 1st’s 3-1 Lakeside Athletic 1st’s

Beer Albion sailed through to the semi finals of the Devon Football League Cup after a fine 3-1 victory against Plymouth side Lakeside Athletic last Saturday at the Furzebrake writes Richard Honnor. The 115 spectators were treated to a highly-competitive tie in which the Fishermen came out on top thanks to a hard-working team performance and some incisive finishing. The players also showed much-improved discipline than of late, staying calm in the wake of a few robust challenges as the Lakers tried to unsettle them particularly as the game reached its final stages.

Beer looked sharp from the first whistle and dominated the first quarter of the match with some crisp passing football. Finley Rooke was a powerhouse in midfield and Jacob Rowe was making incisive runs. In the first minute Rowe went close with a low 20 yarder after a perfect cut-back from Tony Pinder and on 7 minutes, Josh French got good contact on a near-post header from Rowe’s inswinging free kick but the ball flew just over the bar.

The Fishermen deservedly opened the scoring on 12 minutes with a fine solo-effort from Giles Basson. A great long pass from Cody Bowditch found Basson in space down the left and the winger ran at the Lakeside defence, cut inside the full back and from and caught the keeper unawares with a well-placed, low 20-yarder inside the near post.

Lakeside’s first real threat came on 25 minutes when a clever run from their midfielder caught Beer’s defence square. Beer keeper Charlie Ledger came out and forced the player to go wide giving his defenders time to recover and block the danger.

But the visitors were getting the upper hand in midfield with their skipper Billy Northcott prominent. They pushed the home defence deep with fine attacking play and Beer at this point were struggling to keep possession. An equaliser looked increasingly on the cards and it came on 30 minutes. Lakeside’s speedy right wing back Frost stormed down the flank and put in a cross which Beer failed to deal with. The Lakers’ big midfielder hit a powerful strike from 20 yards, brilliantly save by Ledger at full stretch but the rebound was clinically half-volleyed home.

The Fishermen were now having to soak up pressure but their solid back line resisted well. Beer did have a great chance on the break on 34 minutes when Basson put Jacob Rowe in the clear but the Lakeside keeper blocked the skilful midfielder’s shot.

But after a surviving couple of close calls including a teasing lob which scraped the crossbar, Beer struck a hammer blow, going 2-1 ahead just before half-time. A crisp counter-attack from midfield, once again involving Bowditch, found Basson in space on the right. The winger delivered a teasing cross which sailed over the Lakeside keeper and found its way inside the far post.

After the break, Beer survived an early scare when Lakeside had the ball in the net on 48 minutes but this was adjudged offside. The Fishermen came back well and took a 3-1 lead on 51 minutes through a brilliant Josh French goal. In the build-up French released Pinder from halfway with a fine through ball. The keeper advanced to the edge of his penalty and got to the ball first but under pressure from Pinder the ball was given away to French whose exquisite chip from 20 yards found the net over the heads of the retreating Lakeside defenders.

The Fishermen then settled into a containing role, working hard for each across the park to nullify their opponents’ threat.

After a vehement penalty shout was turned down on 60 minutes, Lakeside became frustrated at Beer’s solid resistance, and lost their composure somewhat with some hefty challenges and the referee Burrough had to issue the yellow card on a number of occasions.

Beer skipper French was having a fine game and was unlucky not to score his 2nd on 62 minutes when he expertly flicked on a short free kick from Finley Rooke but he was thwarted by a good save and then a desperate clearance prevented Basson from heading home the rebound.

Beer’s win was essentially a reward for fine teamwork with their back line once again outstanding under pressure. But match sponsors picked out skipper French as man-of-the-match. Not only did French lead the line well but he also inspired his team to a fine win.

The Fishermen’s reward for the victory is a semi-final tie against Paignton Saints but next week they are back in league action at home to local rivals Feniton. Kick-off is at 3 pm and the match sponsor is P R Driver Gates and Railings.

Meanwhile in Devon and Exeter Division 1, Beer 2nd’s travel to Lympstone.

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