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University of Exeter 1st’s 2-3 Beer Albion 1st’s 

Devon Premier Cup Quarter Final

A hat-trick of set-piece goals from striker Finley Rooke enabled  Beer Albion 1st’s to achieve an excellent 3-2 Devon Premier Cup victory against University of Exeter 1st’s at Exwick Sports Hub on Saturday writes Richard Honnor.  This win over the Devon League pace-setters puts the Fishermen into the semi-finals of the Premier Cup.

 The Fishermen produced a fine display of disciplined, defensive football to overcome pure-footballing opponents in an intriguing contest.

The pattern of play became clear from the outset. Uni completely dominated possession with their passing football whilst Beer stayed compact often with 10 men behind the ball to restrict the Students to mid and long range goal efforts.  The Fishermen relied on swift counters as their main method of attack. Beer’s game plan had worked well in recent encounters with Uni and it served them well once again.

Uni started on the front foot and Beer keeper Elliot Driver made two good saves in the first 15 minutes from 15 yards out. Then on 18 minutes the Fishermen took the lead after right winger Liam Cox whose pace was always a threat was brought dow just outside the penalty box. From 20 yards out, Finley Rooke struck the perfect free kick eluding the defensive wall and the keeper’s despairing dive.

Uni responded on the front foot and Driver was again tested on 20 minutes with another shot from distance. The Beer keeper was in fine form and his best save of the half came on 36 minutes when he saved at a 15-yard effort from Uni’s left winger at full stretch.

After sustained pressure the Students eventually equalised on 40 minutes. Beer’s defence hesitated, expecting an offside call after a short pass down Uni’s left flank. But play was allowed to continue and a shot from an acute angle squeezed its way into the goal.

The Fishermen were rattled by the goal and were almost undone by another swift break down the left but the striker’s first time effort from 6 yards narrowly missed the target The half-time whistle could not come soon enough to enable the Beer players to regroup.

After the break, Beer started brightly and were unlucky not to go in front when George Richard’s header was ruled offside after Jacob Rowe’s teasing free kick into the  box had created the chance. 

Across the park the Fishermen continued to work extremely hard to frustrate the Students who seemed unable vary their game plan and showed reluctance to get first time crosses into the box. Beer were beginning to get forward more with Jake Rowe and Charley Skilton becoming more assertive in midfield and the Rooke brothers and Liam Cox driving forward upfront.

Uni suffered a big blow on 58 minutes when their centre back had to retire with a nasty cut on his hand but they continued to press forward.   Beer almost caught them on the break on 62 minutes when Finley Rooke’s header from Liam Cox’s early cross bounced narrowly wide.

The Fishermen’s defence continue to absorb Uni pressure with George Richards in outstanding form at centre back. Then, dramatically,  Beer went 2-1 ahead on 70 minutes through a Finley Rooke penalty. Rooke caught the Uni number 6 in possession on the half line. As he raced into the penalty box Rooke was hauled down by the chasing defender.  The Beer striker coolly slotted home the spot-kick.

Four minutes later, Uni conceded another penalty when Brooklyn Wilkins’ long free kick was handled in the box. Up stepped Finley Rooke to complete his hat-trick from the spot and put Beer into a 3-1 lead.

Uni  weren’t finished and quickly reduced the arrears, when they carved through the Beer defence and executed  a finish from close range. But despite tiring legs, the Fishermen held on until the final whistle to book their semi-final place.

This was an outstanding collective performance with George Richards, Charley Skilton and Elliot Driver all in great form but man-of-the-match went to 3-goal Finley Rooke.

Next Saturday Beer are back in League action with a tricky away fixture away at Newtown.

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