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Exmouth Spartans 0 - 2 Beer Albion 2nd's

In Devon and Exeter Division 2, Beer Albion Reserves completed the double over Exmouth Spartans with a sparkling 2-0 victory on a beautiful crisp autumn day at Exmouth writes Richard Honnor. Both sides deserved top marks for their contributions to a highly entertaining, sporting contest but, in the end, the Fishermen had too much fire power for the Spartans.

It was Exmouth however who started the stronger, finding their front men with nicely-weighted passes through the channels and deep crosses into the box, forcing several testing corners. But with Ashley Driver, Fraser Beamont and Kieron Love in defiant mood, the Fishermen’s back line soaked up the pressure.

Spartans did go close to an opening goal on a couple of occasions. First, Beer’s young keeper Leo Gribble kept his side on level terms with a superb save low down at full stretch on 13 minutes and 2 minutes later Spartans number 14 narrowly missed the target with a crisp 15-yarder.

Gradually, Beer started to find space in midfield and string some passes together and it soon became apparent that Exmouth’s defence was vulnerable to the quick break, in particular the pace of front man Jay Catley and wing backs Jack Prior and James Hill.

It was Catley who set up the Fishermen’s opening goal on 20 minutes albeit against the run of play. Catley beat the defence in a chase for a long ball down the middle and he then released a pass to Chris Long. The Beer skipper still had plenty to do, shifting the ball to his left to find space and then sweeping it into the corner wide of the keeper from 15 yards out.

The goal gave Beer confidence to drive forward as the spaces opened up in midfield. Exmouth’s defence dropped deeper, wary of the Fishermen’s pace.

However, Beer suffered a setback when Catley was forced out of the game with an ankle injury on 34 minutes after another blistering run. The Fishermen need not have worried however as 38-year old replacement James Melville slotted in quickly, posing a different set of problems for the home side with his close control and accurate passing.

The pattern of the game had now reversed with Beer dominating possession and the home side increasingly relying on counter attacks. After the break the Fishermen played their best football of the season and were only kept at bay by some fine saves from the Exmouth keeper.

Exmouth continued to test Beer on the counter with crosses and corners but man-of-the-match Driver won most of the aerial challenges to snuff out any threat.

Remarkably Beer had to wait until the 88th minute to inflict the killer blow with a goal from substitute Harry Lawrence who rifled the ball home after another flowing move.

Beer 1st’s much awaited Devon League encounter with University of Exeter 1st’s was abandoned after 55 minutes when the floodlights at Exwick stadium failed to operate. The match was tantalisingly poised at 4-3 in the Uni’s favour after a thrilling first half. An early goal from Beer’s Charley Skilton was quickly overturned as Uni sailed into a 3-1 lead with just 6 minutes played. Beer levelled up just before half time through Charlie Ledger and George Harwood only for Uni to edge in front again immediately before the lights failed.

Next week Devon Football League action returns to the Furzebrake with Beer 1st’s entertaining second-placed Lakeside. Kick-off is at 2:15pm and the match sponsor is MGR Roofing. Beer 2nd’s are away to Feniton 2nd’s in Devon and Exeter Division 2.

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