Fishermen edged out by Honiton Town in thrilling cup tie

Beer Albion 1st team at home to Elmore. Ref shsp 35-17TI 0137. Picture: Terry Ife

Beer Albion 1st team at home to Elmore. Ref shsp 35-17TI 0137. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Beer Albion can count themselves unlucky last Saturday, going down 4-3 in a thrilling Devon Premier Cup tie at Honiton, writes Richard Honnor.

The Fishermen matched their South West Peninsular League opponents in terms of skill and spirit throughout and deservedly got their noses in front with just seven minutes remaining before two goals at the death handed the Hippos a lucky passage through to the last 32 of the competition.

Although key defenders Foster and Prior were missing and Richard Walker and Simon Smith were on the subs bench because of niggling injuries, Beer started brightly and created the first meaningful chance on 10 minutes with a swift move started by centre back Joe Adkin, but Jack Harwood’s shot was off target.

But the Fishermen were stunned by two Honiton goals in quick succession. First on 16 minutes, the Honiton centre forward cut in from the left and hit a clean left-foot strike well wide of Beer keeper Steve Jones for a 1-0 lead. Three minutes later, poor marking at the far post from a deep right wing cross left a Honiton striker with an easy header from five yards out for a two-goal lead.

But any thoughts of a heavy defeat for Beer were soon dispelled. The Fishermen took the game to their opponents, closing them down quickly thus allowing outstanding Portugese midfielder Pedro Fontes to pull the strings.

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First, on 20 minutes, a mistimed clearance presented Beer’s Jack Harwood with a shooting opportunity, but his dipping effort was punched over the bar by Hippos’ keeper, Kayes.

Then, on 22 minutes, the Fishermen were back in the contest at 2-1 when a great through ball from John Cooper found the lively Jack Harwood, who made no mistake this time, shooting through the advancing keeper’s legs.

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The game was producing some sparkling end-to-end football from both sides, but Honiton were rattled on 37 minutes when Beer equalised.

Fontes found Jack Harwood on the right and the young wide player got round the Hippos’ defence and crossed superbly to the near post for Fisherman striker Chris Long to convert first time from eight yards.

In the second half, Beer worked hard to get the upper hand. Honiton’s main threat was down the left, but wing back Jacob Clode and centre back Joe Adkin worked hard to contain the threat.

Chances were being created at both ends, but as the game wore on the Fishermen looked the stronger side.

They went close when, on 51 minutes, George Harwood’s whipped-in cross was headed against his own crossbar by a Honiton defender and then Long’s goalbound left-footer was deflected behind for a corner on 65 minutes.

Then the Fishermen had a lucky escape when Jones saved well at full stretch after a defensive mix-up presented Honiton with a chance.

Beer deservedly took a 3-2 lead on 84 minutes through Chris Long’s brilliant solo effort. The Beer striker picked up a long clearance, rounded the defender with a clever lob and then slotted the ball home from 16 yards past the advancing keeper.

The Fishermen’s joy was short-lived, however, when, on 87 minutes, the Hippos broke again down the left and a fierce low cross was put away from close range to even things up at 3-3.

With a minute left, the brave Fishermen suffered a cruel blow when keeper Jones brought down a Honiton player in the box. The penalty was expertly put away to put the somewhat relieved Hippos into the next round.

The final result was a huge disappointment for Beer and their loyal travelling supporters.

Their failure to close out the game should not detract, however, from a terrific performance in which they were every bit as good as their Peninsular League opponents.

There were great performances all across the park with special mention to midfielder Fontes and centre back Kieron Love who were outstanding.

On Saturday (October 14), Beer are back on Macron Premier Division duty when they host Exmouth Town Reserves. Kick-off at the Furzebrake is 3pm and the match sponsor is Jean Bartlett Cottage Holidays.

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