Beer edged out at Heavitree in seven goal thriller
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Beer Albion were pipped by Heavitree United in tense, bruising seven goal thriller at Wingfield Park on Saturday, writes Richard Honnor.
The Fishermen put up a spirited performance against their talented, but physical opponents but just fell short at the end of the day.
The condition of the playing surface was abysmal - it was cut-up, uneven and grassless in places - and contributed to mistakes and missed chances on both sides. Unwittingly it made for an exciting spectacle with Heavies dominating the possession and looking great going forward but with Beer always looking dangerous on the counter against a suspect defence.
From the outset, Heavitree imposed themselves on the game and the Beer defence, missing in-form centre back Andrew Foster, looked rather lightweight and were being regularly brushed aside down both flanks by their strong running opponents.
The Heavies should have been two goals up within five minutes, but their left winger fluffed both chances from close range after poor marking.
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Chances came regularly for the home side in the first quarter, but Beer somehow survived and launched the first of several swift counter attacks on 21 minutes when Richard Walker’s attempted 20-yard chip was comfortably gathered by Heavies’ keeper. Two minutes later, Walker dispossessed the Heavitree right back and delivered a great cross into the box, but Bartlett and then Smith, both supporting, failed to get anything on the ball.
After slack marking at the far post, Heavitree took the lead on 24 minutes with a header from a corner which was deflected in off the post by Beer’s Josh Moughton as the full back tried to clear his lines. It would have been 2-0 two minutes later but for a flying save by keeper Mark Rooke after the Heavies had once again cut through Beer’s defence too easily.
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On 29 minutes, Beer equalised through another smart counter-attack. Midfielder Pedro Fontes started the move deep in his own half and then an interchange of passes between Simon Smith and Walker ended with Smith providing a clinical finish from 12 yards.
Thereafter, it was more of the same with Heavitree failing to capitalise on a period of intense pressure interspersed with occasional but dangerous breaks from Beer.
The Fishermen seemed to have weathered the storm and almost went ahead on 40 minutes when the outstanding Walker provided another great cross to Fontes whose shot was cleared off the Heavies’ goal line with the keeper beaten.
With half-time approaching, Heavitree went 2-1 ahead when a long pass out of defence found the Heavies striker who pivoted on the edge of the box and beat Rooke with a low shot from 18-yards.
Beer were gifted an equaliser within a minute of the restart when Walker was brought down in the Heavitree box and Smith tucked away the penalty.
However, on 52 minutes Heavitree again edged in front through a bizarre own goal from Beer’s Shaun Denslow. In an attempt to clear a low cross from the left, the Beer defender half-volleyed the ball past keeper Rooke into his own net!
The plucky Fishermen would not lie down and enjoyed their best spell of the game. First Bartlett ‘s shot was deflected into the side netting, then Chis Long’s 30 yard free kick brought a good save out of the Heavies keeper.
On 62 minutes, Beer levelled the game at 3-3 when after fine work again from man-of- the-match Walker split the Heavies wide open and Fontes slammed home from 6 yards.
Good chances still came and went at both ends, but Heavitree clinched the three points on 87 minutes when their holding midfielder hit an unstoppable 20-yarder into the top corner after Beer had failed to get the ball clear. This was hard on the Fishermen whose battling performance deserved a point on the day.
This Saturday (March 18), Beer first team entertain struggling Hatherleigh Town at the Furzebrake. Kick-off is at 3pm and the match sponsor is Beer Ball Albion.