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Beer Albion 2nd’s 3-2 Alphington 3rd’s

Beer Albion 2nd’s maintained top position in Devon and Exeter Division 2 with a narrow 3-2 victory at home to Alphington 3rd’s writes Richard Honnor. With 15 minutes to go, the Fishermen, leading 3-1, were cruising to a fairly comfortable win. But the visitors produced a late goal and pressed hard for the equaliser leaving Beer somewhat relieved in the end to hold on for the victory.

Despite bad weather leading up to the match, playing conditions were remarkably good underfoot although was a tricky cross-wind.

Alphington started strongly and gave the Fishermen a couple of early scares but it was the home side who opened the scoring after 12 minutes. Neat link-up play between Max Richardson and Josh French followed by an inch-perfect pass enabled Jake Hale to slot the ball into the bottom corner.

Careless play in Beer’s midfield led to Alphington’s equaliser on 22 minutes. The ball was given away, presenting midfielder Preece with the opportunity to score from 18 yards with a low shot which squeezed under keeper Martin Hill’s body.

Beer responded well with some direct play and got behind the Alphington defence several times but good chances were spurned. Max Richardson was particularly unlucky when his curling effort hit the bar on 32 minutes.

But with half-time approaching, Beer took command with 2 goals in quick succession. On 40 minutes, they went 2-1 up with an exquisitely worked goal. Finley Rooke switched the play to Reece Best wide on the left with a great long pass out of defence. Best squared the ball neatly inside to midfielder French who in turn hit a perfectly weighted through ball to Max Richardson. The Beer striker fired home from 10 yards.

Two minutes later, Beer were 3-1 up when Reece Best converted on the turn after more great work from French and Jake Hale on the right.

As half time approached, there was a fracas involving Rooke and Alphington’s no. 7 for which both players were yellow-carded by referee Colin Thomas. Otherwise, the game was played in a good, competitive spirit.

After the break, the Fishermen entertained the crowd with some silky passing football but thanks to a couple of good saves by Alphington’s keeper and some glaring misses, the score stayed at 3-1 until the final stages.

One had the feeling that Beer might pay the price for not putting the game beyond doubt and, sure enough, Alphington were given a lifeline on 78 minutes after Beer failed to close down a driving move from midfield. The end result was a goal for Powell who squeezed the ball past Hill from an acute angle on the wide right.

As the game went into the final 10 minutes, the Fishermen’s midfield dropped too deep allowing the visitors the space to run at the the Beer defence. But despite a succession of late corners, Beer held firm to earn the 3 points.

There were some good performances for Beer. Finley Rooke was commanding at the centre of Beer’s defence and Reece Best and Jake Hale worked extremely hard across the pitch. But creative midfielder Josh French, coming back from injury, and with 3 assists, was the pick of the Beer players. Man-of-the match however was awarded by sponsors Harbour Beer Boys skittles team to Alphington centre back Westle who was calm and assured throughout at the heart of the visitor’s defence.

Next Saturday both Beer sides have away fixtures. Beer 1st’s travel to Thorverton who currently occupy 2nd place in the Premier division. The Fishermen who sit one place below their hosts will be keen to reverse their 2-1 home defeat earlier in the campaign, and thereby keep their title challenge alive. Meanwhile Beer 2nd’s will be hoping to retain top spot in Division 2 by completing the double over their hosts Tipton St John.

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