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Beer Albion 4- 2 Buckfastleigh Rangers

Beer Albion 1st’s booked their passage into the quarter-finals of the Carl Throgmorton Devon Premier Cup with a fine 4-2 win against table-topping South Devon side Buckfastleigh Rangers writes Richard Honnor. In what was arguably their best performance of the season and despite the unavailability of five regulars, the Fishermen came from behind to win a thrilling cup-tie against excellent opponents.

Not only were Buckfastleigh physically strong and competitive but they showed skill and composure on the ball. Beer’s keeper Elliot Driver was in early action to deal with a couple of dangerous set-pieces. Also, the Fishermen’s backline was thoroughly tested from the first whistle but they stood up well and remained resolute throughout the match.

The one chink in Buckfastleigh’s armour was a susceptibility to diagonal balls. Beer’s midfield trio of Charley Skilton, Brooklyn Wilkins and Josh French frequently exploited this weakness with perfectly weighted passes enabling front players Kieran Daniels and Tom Perry to trouble the big defenders with their pace and energy.

Buckfastleigh missed a chance to go ahead on 18 minutes when their right winger missed the target after getting behind the Beer defence and they were punished four minutes later. Perry was brought down in the penalty area by the visitor’s keeper after he had fumbled Daniels well-placed free-kick. Skilton fired home an unstoppable spot-kick.

Buckfastleigh continued to play some great football with Tom Moody orchestrating their midfield but such was the solidity of Beer’s defensive play that keeper Driver was rarely tested. The Fishermen had two good chances before the break to increase their lead but Wilkins shot wide after being set up by Daniels and then Daniels himself shot straight at the keeper after being put through by French.

After the break Beer created an early chance but French’s 12-yard toe-poke was comfortably saved. The visitors then launched a wave of attacks on the Beer goal and, unsurprisingly, the equaliser came on 56 minutes when Moody slid the ball home from 10 yards out after a solo run. It looked ominous for Beer when just one minute later Buckfastleigh went 2-1 ahead through a magnificent strike from an acute angle.

But Beer showed real character to pull themselves back into the game. Buckfastleigh failed to clear a free-kick into the box and Charlie Ledger’s teasing header from eight yards looped over the keeper and dropped down behind him via the crossbar. Despite the visitors’ protests that the keeper had clawed the ball away before it had crossed the line, the referee awarded the goal and Beer were on level terms.

As the game wore on, Beer’s superior fitness began to tell and they took control of the game. After Daniels and then Perry were thwarted by a desperate double save, Beer went 3-2 ahead on 75 minutes. The tiring visitors’ defence failed to deal with a corner and Josh French reacted quickly in a crowded box to score with a clean left-footer from 12 yards.

The game was sewn up five minutes later when the Buckfastleigh keeper dropped a near-post corner and the ever-alert French was first to the loose ball to notch his 2nd goal from close range.

This was such a good performance that man-of-the-match could have been given to any one of Beer’s team. Match Sponsor Practical Car and Van Rental at Musbury Garage picked out Tom Moody as Buckfastleigh’s best player and settled on Beer midfielder Charley Skilton as the game’s star player.

Beer Reserves maintained their lead in Devon and Exeter Division 2 with a solid 2-0 win at Otterton. The Fishermen coped well with a bumpy pitch and tricky weather conditions against a side with a formidable home record. Goals from Harry Lawrence and Reece Best and a workmanlike performance across the park earned Beer the victory.

Goalkeeper Shaun Denslow and centre-backs Fraser Beament and Jack Harwood were outstanding and instrumental in the Fishermen keeping a clean sheet.

Next Saturday Beer 1st’s are back in leagues action away to University of Exeter 2nd’s. Meanwhile, at the Furzebrake Beer2nd’s have a top-of-the-table clash with Winkleigh 1st’s. Kick of is at 2:15 pm and the match sponsor is Colebrooke House.

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