Newton Poppleford 1, Bickleigh 3

Newton Poppleford are now down to their last ten fit players and are urgently seeking new players who might be able to help them out over the festive period, writes Ken Woodsford.

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Although results have not gone their way this season, the Popples players and management are clearly enjoying life in the second tier of Fresha League football.

Last Saturday the beer in the Cannon Inn tasted particularly good, after the side almost pulled off the shock result of the season against Bickleigh, despite playing the later stages with only ten players!

During a shaky opening period the Popples were grateful to keeper Alex Bowring who turned up to play despite severe toothache. He pulled off three brilliant saves to keep scores level. The home team were also creating chances of their own, and, when a long range effort from Harrison Jones was deflected on to the bar, Mark Tett was on hand to steer the ball into the net.

More injury woe struck with Dave Chalk forced to limp off with a dead leg. He was replaced up front by Rhys Feeney. Bickleigh were then gifted a very soft penalty award, when Matt Tett slid in to

block a shot and the ball rebounded on to his arm!

The second half turned out to be a thriller! Bickleigh continued to press and 56-year-old Popples boss Cliff Cooper came on for the last 30 minutes.

When the unfortunate Ben Stokes tweaked a hamstring it meant Popples having to battle on with ten players! Battle they certainly did and it took Bickleigh some time to regain the lead after which Matt Tett led an excellent Popples response. Stewart Pile fired just over and it was only in the closing stages that the hosts bagged a third with Popples glovesman having no chance of keeping it out.

In a highly entertaining game youngsters Tom Clay and Stewart Pile impressed whilst the duo of ‘Skid’ Tett and Harrison Jones covered every blade of grass for the cause.

Tomorrow (Saturday) the Popples entertain East Budleigh (2.15pm) at their Back Lane home.

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