Beer spot on to make Devon Premier Cup progress
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Beer Albion made Devon Premier Cup progress after a penalty shoot-out win over Lapford, writes Richard Honnor.
With the scores level at 1-1 after 90 minutes, the Fishermen held their nerve to clinch the penalty shoot-out 4-2, thanks to a brilliant one-handed save by Elliot Driver and the composure shown by 16-year-old Finley Rooke in despatching the winning spot-kick.
Although the margin of victory was close, the Fishermen played superbly against an excellent side, who were previously unbeaten in all competitions this season.
Manager Mark Rooke welcomed back key players centre-back Joe Adkin after suspension and midfielder Alex Hunt and decided to start with them after a couple of disappointing performances recently.
Rooke's decision was spot-on as Adkin and Hunt added physical strength to the side which provided more space and time for Beer's talented youngsters to take the game to their opponents.
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Hunt's driving runs at the Lapford defence encouraged his side to play higher up the field as a unit and squeeze the opposition.
In an enthralling, but goalless first half chances were few and far between. Beer did almost go ahead when Charley Skilton's strike was deflected over the Lapford bar and they were denied a good scoring opportunity after striker Chris Long had broken free of his marker but was brought down inches outside the penalty already.
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The referee adjudged that Long had dived and awarded the free kick to Lapford.
After the break, Beer took a 1-0 lead on 50 minutes through Alex Hunt. Taylor Rooke won an aerial challenge and his flick-on was met by Hunt who scored with a rasping shot from an acute angle 10 yards out.
But the Fishermen allowed their opponents back into the contest on 57 minutes lwhen Dominic Stapleton volleyed home after the ball was given away in the penalty area.
For the next 10 minutes the visitors pegged Beer back in their own half but with centre backs Martin and Joe Adkin in resolute form, the Fishermen absorbed the pressure well and came back strongly to dominate the final stages as their opponents started to tire.
Late in the game, The Fishermen had good chances to clinch the result, first when Finley Rooke shot over the bar after latching on to Jay Catley's early cross and then Chris Long hit the post with a low effort. Long was also thwarted by the Lapford keeper who just got his fingertips to a Charley Skilton cross at the far post with the Beer striker waiting ready to pounce.
Tempers flared as the game drew to a close after midfielder Finley Rooke, who had a fine game, was cynically fouled after dispossessing the Lapford defence, but inexplicably the referee changed his decision and awarded a free kick in Lapford's favour after the ensuing melee. Then came the dramatic shoot-out, won by Beer to book their passage into the next round of the competition.
Match sponsors 'Fred Hansford Carpets' opted for Beer's Martin Adkin as Man of the Match winner, this for his fine performance at the heart of th home defence.
Both Beer sides sit this coming Saturday (October 19) out. The first team return to action with an October 26 visit to Macron League top flight high-fliers Cronies while, on the same day, Beer second team host Winkleigh in a Bill Slee Cup tie (2pm). The Furzebrake match sponsor on the final Saturday of the month is John Wheeler Ltd Builders of Seaton.