Fishermen net Macron League top flight ‘result of the day’ with win at Exwick Villa

Honiton 2nds at home to East Budleigh. Ref mhsp 40-16TI 9156. Picture: Terry Ife

Honiton 2nds at home to East Budleigh. Ref mhsp 40-16TI 9156. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Beer Albion produced the surprise result of the day when they won 1-0 away at second-placed Exwick Villa in the Macron Devon and Exeter Premier Division on Saturday, writes Richard Honnor.

The Fishermen, playing on Exwick’s artificial 3G surface for the first time, were good value for their 1-0 lead at half-time after a fine display of attacking football. After the break they produced a terrific defensive display to hold on to their advantage as Villa surged forward in search of an equaliser.

For the first 10 minutes Beer had some difficulty in adjusting to the surface, misjudging the lower bounce and slower ball travel on the artificial surface.

The Fishermen were nearly made to pay for such an error on seven minutes when Joe Adkin, who otherwise had a splendid match, failed to shepherd the ball out for a goal-kick and was dispossessed by Villa’s left winger.

The resulting cross was met with a low goal-bound shot from 10 yards which Beer’s keeper somehow kept out with a crucial, magnificent diving save at full stretch. Bartlett produced another good save four minutes later to keep his side in contention.

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Gradually the Fishermen adapted to the surface and began to get the upper hand, getting behind the Exwick defence with some surging breaks from midfield and along the flanks.

After Chris Long narrowly headed wide on 17 minutes, Beer deservedly took the lead on 22 minutes with a well worked goal from midfielder Simon Smith.

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Full back Jack Prior broke up an Exwick attack, and hit an early pass to Smith on the wide right. Smith released his co-midfielder Alex Hunt who got behind the home side’s defence.

Smith found space just inside the penalty box to receive Hunt’s return and place his shot wide of the keeper’s right hand into the bottom corner.

For the rest of the first half, it was an even contest but the Fishermen worked extremely hard across the whole pitch to deny Exwick space to get their passing game going.

Chances were few and far between but Beer almost went two up on 34 minutes when Joe Adkin headed a George Harwood corner narrowly wide.

Exwick made a determined effort after the break and Beer keeper Bartlett had to be alert on 47 minutes to smother the danger after full back Prior had been caught wrong side of his winger.

As the half progressed the Fishermen’s midfield and defence dropped deeper thus allowing Villa to dominate the possession. But the Fishermen’s defence were determined to hold on to their slender lead and restricted the home side to just one good opportunity late on when a close range shot went narrowly wide with keeper Bartlett well beaten.

The Fishermen had a couple of chances themselves on the break when Chris Long fired wide on 76 minutes from an acute angle and then when his lob almost caught the Exwick keeper off his line on 80 minutes. Long again narrowly missed the target on 87 minutes after an incisive break down the left involving Cooper and Hunt.

Centre backs Adkin and Ashley Driver were outstanding in Beer’s rearguard as Exwick piled on the second half pressure.

But essentially this was a team effort which earned the respect, after the game, of Exwick’s fine midfield playmaker James Skinner, who was magnanimous in his praise for the Fishermen’s performance.

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