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Beer Albion 2nd’s 2-1 Exmouth Spartans

Beer Albion 2nds bounced back from last week’s disappointing defeat at the hands of local rivals Seaton Town with an excellent 2-1 win against previously unbeaten Exmouth Spartans in Devon and Exeter Division 2 writes Richard Honnor.

In front of a Furzebrake crowd of 70, the Fishermen produced their best performance of the season but it took a wonderful 35-yard strike from Chris Long to break the deadlock late in the game when a draw looked on the cards.

From the first minute Beer looked sharp and determined, taking the game to their opponents with some crisp, attacking football. In an entertaining contest, chances were being created at either end and but for some fine goalkeeping from Spartans Alan Doble and Beer’s 16-year-old Leo Gribble the scores would have been much higher. Fishermen’s centre Richard Walker tested Doble with a couple of early shots and Gribble made two very good saves later in the half from fiercely-hit strikes.

Towards the end of the first half, Beer were unlucky not be ahead after two desperate goal line clearances thwarted Chris Long Long and then Simon Smith.

But it was the Exmouth outfit who took the lead in 39 minutes when a counter-attack down the left resulted in a pin-point cross being met by Ian Fulls who rippled the net with a fierce strike at the far post.

To their credit, Beer continued to push forward and after being put through by Josh Lund, Walker was once again thwarted by a fine save at close range by the Spartans keeper. But 2 minutes into added time, Beer were on level terms through Simon Smith’s clean strike from 18 yards after left wing back Taylor Russell had cut inside his man and delivered a fine cross into the box from the by-line.

After the break, both sides continued to create chances. The Fishermen survived a scare on 49 minutes when Spartans had a goal disallowed for offside. Then Doble denied Beer’s Walker after Long’s through ball had put the striker in the clear.

As legs were beginning to tire, Beer were re-energised by the the introductions of midfielder Alex Paget and full back Ryan King who both made significant contributions in the final 25 minutes. Exmouth began to give the ball away and were duly punished on 84 minutes by Long’s super strike. Finding himself in space 35yards out, the Beer midfielder hit an unstoppable pile-driver into the top left hand corner to seal the 2-1 victory for the Fishermen.

There were fine performances across the park. Young keeper Leo Gribble commanded his area well and shows great promise but the man-of-the-match awarded on behalf of sponsors Clinton Estates went to Kieron Love for an impeccable display at the heart of Beer’s defence. For Spartans, midfielder and skipper Rob Welsman worked tirelessly for his team.

Next Saturday both Beer sides are in cup action away from home. Beer 1sts play North Devon outfit Appeldore Lions in the 2nd Round of the Devon Premier Cup, whilst Beer 2nd’s have a tough challenge at Alphington 2nd’s in the Devon Senior Cup.

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