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Beer Albion go through 6-5 on penalties

To the delight of their 80 travelling fans, current trophy holders Beer Albion showed tremendous resilience last Saturday to defeat North Molton SC by the narrowest of margins and progress to the semi-finals of the Devon Premier Cup writes Richard Honnor.

Uncannily it was a repeat of last season’s final between these two evenly-matched sides. Once again the scores were level at 1-1 on 90 minutes, and the Fishermen came out on top after a tense penalty shoot-out.The Stags were on the verge of going through, leading 3-2 with just one more penalty needed. But a magnificent save by Beer Keeper Charlie Ledger who had already stopped one penalty gave the Fishermen a lifeline and they held their nerve with four unstoppable penalties to snatch the victory by a 6-5 margin after the Stags’ final attempt thudded against the crossbar.

Earlier Beer made a strong start to the game. They were awarded a penalty on 4 minutes when Giles Basson was brought down and Tony Pinder coolly slotted home the spot-kick. Just 2 minutes later Beer were harshly penalised for an innocuous challenge in their box but justice prevailed when the home side’s spot-kick sailed over the bar.

The Fishermen’s passing football gave them the upper hand in the first 30 minutes with midfielders Rowe and Wilkins opening up North Molton’s defence with some creative passes and bringing Basson and Pinder into play. Basson created two good chances for himself but the Stags’ keeper foiled him on both occasions.

By contrast, North Molton played the long ball very effectively on their narrow home pitch and looked particularly menacing down the left. The Fishermen were conceding too many free kicks around their box and were often at full stretch to defend the Stags’ aerial threat. They survived a couple of close shaves, first when the home striker shot just wide after a defensive mix-up, followed by a free kick from 25 yards out which narrowly missed the target.

As half time approached Beer were unlucky not to go 2-up after Rowe found Pinder in the box with a delicate chip and in turn Pinder beat the advancing keeper with a deft lob which sailed just over the crossbar.

After the break North Molton got the upper hand with their excellent number 7 orchestrating the play in midfield. The Fishermen were denied the space to get their attacking game flowing and conceded possession too easily with sloppy passing and by overrunning the ball.

But with centre back Liam Cox in fine form, Beer’s defence played stoically and the whole team worked extremely hard across the park to protect their slender lead.

After a couple of North Molton efforts shaved the outside of the post followed by a brilliant point-blank save from Ledger, the home side eventually scored the equaliser on 65 minutes. Their centre back collected a pass 25 yards out, and although he was pushed wide by good defending he unleashed a firm strike across goal into the left corner from 18 yards.

In the last 10 minutes Beer got back on the front foot after a number of tactical switches and the introduction of “fresh legs” from the bench but the game inevitably went into that dramatic penalty shoot-out.

Man-of-match was undoubtedly Beer keeper Ledger not just for his heroic penalty saves but for his impeccable handling throughout.

Next Saturday Beer 1st’s are back in league action when they entertain Ottery St Mary 1st’s at the Furzebrake. Beer Boats are the match day sponsor and kick-off is at 2:15 pm. in Devon and Exeter Division 1, Beer 2nd’s are away at Chard Town 2nd’s.

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