Hembrow heroics save the day for undefeated Ottery Under-14s
PUBLISHED: 13:28 28 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:31 28 January 2020
A late penalty save from keeper Jack Hembrow ensured that Ottery U14s remain undefeated in the league after a 1-1 home draw against West Exe Youth, writes Stephen Upsher.
The Otters showed great character to battle back from 1-0 down at half-time, but could well have lost for the first time this season had it not been for the heroics of the Ottery glovesman.
West Exe began the game well and young g Hembrow was busy as early as the third minute, saving well from West Exe leading scorer James Blain.
However, it was Ottery who came closest to breaking the deadlock on seven minutes when midfielder Jake Blackmore hit the crossbar with the keeper well beaten.
The deadlock was broken in the 17th minute when the lively Blain fired home from 20 yards.
Ottery thought they had a penalty before the break when striker Finn Upsher was fouled in the box, but the match official thought otherwise and awarded the home side a direct free-kick which they fired over the bar.
Ottery manager Addy Carpenter was unhappy at the break and demanded more effort from his young side. The team talk seemed to do the trick and Ottery emerged for the second half a much-improved side.
However, West Exe were laying siege to the Ottery goal, giving Hembrow and his defensive team mates a torrid time. Skipper Fin Lashbrook, Sam Gleeson, Will Reid and Rowan Hewitt put their bodies in the line of fire on a number of occasions.
In midfield, unsung midfielder Jack Carpenter was having one of his best games of the season thwarting a number of West Exe moves and feeding the forward line with some great balls.
Upsher forced a corner 10 minutes into the half and Sam Gleeson produced a pinpoint delivery for Blackmore to head home his 12th goal of the season to restore parity.
Blackmore, Upsher and Jake Johnson, who sat this one out with a groin injury, have scored a combined 36 goals for the Otters this season.
However, Ottery almost lost it at the death, conceding a penalty for handball, only for Hembrow to guess correctly and save the spot kick.
After the game Carpenter praised the character of his side, saying: "The lads were all 'warriors'. It was a performance in which they all gave absolutely everything in the second half and I can't ask for more than that. I'm proud of the boys."
The draw sees Ottery drop to second in the table. They sit two points behind new leaders Alphington, who have played a game more.