Clarke stars as Upsher nets double in Ottery Under-13s win
- Credit: Archant
Ottery Under-13s returned to winning ways, defeating visiting North Tawton 4-1 to move up to fifth in the Exeter and District Youth League Division One table.
It has been a frustrating start to 2019 for Addy Carpenter’s side, with postponements coupled with a dip in form.
However, this was a fine all-round display that sets the team up well for this weekend’s clash with third-placed Exeter Panthers.
The team were boosted by the return of leading scorer Finn Upsher, back after getting over a knee injury, and Zak Wilkinson started up front, giving the Otters a three-man strike force of Upsher, Wilkinson and George Durham.
North Tawton made the brighter start and, after just two minutes, a long-ball over the top caught the home defence napping, but Ottery goalkeeper Jack Hembrow came to the rescue, sprinting sharply off his line to snuff out the threat.
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Action then swung to the other end with Wilkinson trading passes with Jake Blackmore down the right flank, but the move came to nothing.
Ollie Milton then made a good run down the left, forcing a corner. Tom Bennett’s resulting delivery into the box narrowly eluded Upsher.
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Hembrow again saved at the other end before Jack Carpenter followed up a surging run into the North Tawton box with a fierce drive that was well saved by the visiting keeper.
Ottery brought on Freddie Clarke for the injured Wilkinson and, shortly after, North Tawton hit the Ottery crossbar.
Clarke and Upsher were starting to link up well and both had shots saved by the visiting keeper.
However, after 33 minutes, Ottery finally made the breakthrough when Man of the Match Clarke found the net from close range to lead 1-0 at the break.
North Tawton started the second half brightly, but the impressive Hembrow tipped a goal-bound drive wide of the post. The Otters defence, comprising influential skipper Fin Lashbrook, the ever-improving Rowan Hewitt and the dependable Tom Bennett and Sam Gleeson, were equal to the threat.
Carpenter brought on Alfie Gibbens, and nine minutes into the half, Clarke showed great composure to bring the ball down and find strike partner Upsher, who fired just over.
Jack Carpenter was impressing in midfield, tackling well and making some penetrating runs into the opposition box.
After 48 minutes, Otters doubled their lead with Carpenter winning a header in the six yard box and Upsher turning home the loose ball.
Gleeson then went close with a headed effort that flew just over the North Tawton crossbar before Upsher made it 3-0 with the goal of the game – his 21st of the season – latching onto a Carpenter header, dancing around his marker and firing into the net from 20 yards.
North Tawton pulled a goal back before Milton made it 4-1, firing home from 15 yards after a superb move by Carpenter and Upsher.
Ottery boss Addy Carpenter praised his youngsters, saying; “I was really pleased with the performance.
“We haven’t had a game for a while because of the weather, but the boys responded with some good football on a very sticky pitch.”