Fluxton 2, Uplowman Athletic 2

Just nine games across the nine divisions on the Fresha League survived the rain on the Saturday before Christmas with Fluxton staging one of them, writes Alex Paget.

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The Paget brothers were bailing out the good ship Tipton from 9am to ensure a run around as league favourites Uplowman Athletic visited the jewel in the Otter Valley crown.

After the referee had been shepherded down the firmer left flank for his pitch inspection, Uplowman, replete in embroidered training tops, set their stall out with a measured warm-up whilst the home side made use of the newly discovered tea making equipment, both heaters blaring out warmth in the copious home dressing room whilst player-manager Chris Sercombe; half here and half still in ‘Timepiece’, went through his game plan of a 3/5/2 formation The trio of Rob Ashman, Barny Croft and Matt Amey were all welcomed back having missed the last game. How superb if Amey’s grandad who follows avidly through the sports section of this publication, could get to a game by season’s end.

Uplowman were tidy in the opening exchanges, dominating the early possession and steeling Fluxton for what was to be a competitive 90 minutes. With Sercombe senior looking strong at the back and wing-backs Amey and John Ashley finding spacious grooves down their respective flanks, Fluxton began to produce incisive football. A visionary Matty Wilson cross found Alex Paget at the far post, but his attempted final ball was too close to the ‘keeper. In the very next move, Amey found James Santer who held the ball up before releasing the galloping Olly Paget down the right flank. He looked up and squared first time to elder brother, Alex, who took a touch and beat the ‘keeper with a composed side-foot to net the only goal of the first half.

The visitors made two substitutions and utilised the flanks far better in the second half, presumably to try to go around Man of the Match Graham Hughes who emulated Gandalf’s ‘Thou shalt not pass’ throughout the 90 minutes!

Uplowman had far more of the ball and made Fluxton work hard but, until scoring direct from a corner, hadn’t looked particularly dangerous. It was a demoralising moment for the home side. No one was really to blame but, somehow, everyone was!

Santer twice went close before Paget jnr was felled 25-yards out. He set his sites and curled a beauty around the wall and inside the near post.

Concentrating on their shape, and with Croft injecting energy into the front line, Fluxton were intent on holding onto their lead, but it wasn’t to be. A clinical cross and headed goal restored parity leaving 17 minutes for either side to find a winner.

A couple of chances were spurned before Amey had an opportunity to secure all three points with the last attack of the game.

Just inside the box and with the ball rolling inviting towards him, he set his sites like a bull readying before a charge. It seemed all that was left was a bulging net but, instead the ball squirreled its way to Santer whose shot was blocked.

On Saturday Fluxton, now unbeaten in five, table-topping Otterton in their final Fresha League Six outing of the year.

Team: M Sercombe, Butcher, Ashman, CSercombe, Ashley, A Paget, Hughes, O Paget, Amey, Wilson (Croft 63), Santer.

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