Hembrow and his back four star as Ottery U13s net superb point at Alphington
PUBLISHED: 13:40 17 January 2019
Ottery St Mary Under-13s extended their unbeaten run to nine matches as they shared the spoils with last year's champions Alphington.
The contest, played on an all-weather pitch, proved to be something of a ‘cagey’ affair from first whistle to last. The home side made the best of the opening exchanges and Ottery glovesman Jack Hembrow was the busier of the two goalkeepers. Twice young Hembrow made fine stops to deny the Alphas the opening goal.
The Otters eventually gained a foothold in the contest and they forced three corners in quick succession before half-time.
The nearest the Otters came to breaking the deadlock was when leading scorer Finn Upsher nodded narrowly over the bar.
Newcomer Seb Copp also came close to scoring, latching onto an Ottery free-kick and seeing his effort go the wrong side of the post just before the break.
Alphington started the second half with greater purpose and they did begin to look the more likely team to score. Ottery had to soak up a prolonged period of attacking play from the Exeter side.
Indeed, had it not been for some sterling defensive work from skipper Finn Lashbrook – continually putting his body in front of a number of Alphington efforts – and fellow full-back Rowan Hewitt, Ottery would have surely fallen behind.
Either side of the two central defenders, Sam Gleeson was calmness personified in the left-back position and Tom Bennett had a solid game at right back.
Midway through the second half, Ottery began to break Alphington down, with Jack Carpenter, Fin Giles and Dan Wright getting stuck into things in the middle third of the pitch.
With 15 minutes to go, Upsher found space on the left and beat three defenders before finding Jake Blackmore on the edge of the box.
Blackmore cleverly lifted the ball into the danger zone, only for the resulting ball to be cleared by the home team.
At the other end there was still work to be done, with Man of the Match, Fin Lashbrook, making a fabulous last-ditch tackle and Jack Hembrow saving from distance to deny Alphington the lead.
With eight minutes remaining, Ollie Milton found room down the left and crossed to Upsher, whose smart turn and shot beat the Alphington keeper at the near post. The goal was Upsher’s 19th of the season.
Alphington threw everything at the Ottery goal and it paid off with five minutes left on the clock, when a 20-yard volley flew past Hembrow into the net to break Ottery hearts.
It was a deserved equaliser and if it hadn’t been for the superb Hembrow turning over another goal-bound volley just before the final whistle, Alphington could have pinched all three points, but that would have been tough on Ottery.
Otters boss Addy Carpenter said: “I felt we underperformed on the day. That said, I have to give full praise to the ‘amazing’ Jack [Hembrow] in goal and the whole back four who performed so well throughout.”
Assistant manager Mark Gleeson summed it up after the dust had settled, saying: “We used eight of our nine lives today by avoiding defeat against a strong and well-organised side.”
The draw leaves the Otters sitting in third place in the table, eight points behind the table-toppers, who have played two games more!
Although Addy Carpenter’s side didn’t play their best on an unfamiliar artificial 4G pitch, they have demonstrated this season that they can more than match the best teams in the league.