Harwood nets as Beer Albion book East Devon Senior Cup semi-final spot

Tipton fc. Ref miscsp 44-17TI 2485. Picture: Terry Ife

Tipton fc. Ref miscsp 44-17TI 2485. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Beer Albion progressed to the semi-finals of the East Devon Senior Cup, winning 1-0 in a evenly-matched, entertaining contest at the Furzebrake, writes Richard Honnor.

Beaten finalists on two previous occasions, in 1954 by Exeter City Reserves and by Cronies last season, the Fishermen are now just two victories away from winning this trophy for the first time.

Clyst Valley started strongly and should have gone ahead on 10 minutes when their forward, completely unchallenged, headed wide from short range with Beer keeper Elliot Driver stranded on his line.

Beer then settled into the game and Pedro Fontes, making his first start of the season made a huge difference to the side with his creativity and bite in the tackle and with John Cooper at his tenacious best, the pair dominated the middle of the park.

Indeed, with player-boss Richard Walker performing with composure and assurance at centre back and the pace and energy of Harwood brothers George and Jack on either flank, the Fishermen’s formation looked well-balanced.

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On 13 minutes Beer had a good shout for a penalty turned down when Fontes’ cross struck centre-back Chris Lane’s arm.

One minute later a cross from Jack Harwood was met by Fontes 15 yards out, but his shot narrowly missed the target. The Fishermen fashioned another good chance on 28 minutes when Chris Long’s clever back-heel from the by line was met by Cooper, but his first-time shot was well anticipated by the Clyst keeper.

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Both teams continued to serve up entertaining football for the rest of the first half, but both defences stood firm.

The Fishermens Tom Vincent did have one opportunity on 42 minutes when he was presented with a misplaced Clyst pass 20 yards out, but his shot sailed over the bar.

Clyst Valley started the second half strongly and Driver made a good catch on 50 minutes from a well-drilled 15 yarder.

Beer responded and Long beat the Clyst offside trap, but his shot from distance went wide of the near post. The hosts survived a couple of scares, first on 55 minutes when Driver saved Josh Gresham’s cleanly struck free-kick after Cooper had conceded a foul marginally outside his penalty area. Ten minutes later, the skilful Gresham almost scored from another set piece when his looping free-kick deceived Driver and struck the angle of the post and crossbar and bounced away to safety.

With 25 minutes remaining, Walker brought on substitutes Simon Smith and Ed Karajev to replace the tiring Fontes and Long.

Karajev’s pace and tenacity rattled the Clyst back line and with George Harwood pushing forward into midfield the Fishermen were finishing strongly.

The games solitary goal came on 79 minutes when Harwood’s pass sent Vincent away down the left. Vincent took on the defender and crossed into the area where Harwood scuffed his shot, the ball hitting his shin and somewhat fortunately creeping just inside the post.

The Fishermen almost scored again in added time when Karajev’s effort was scrambled away via the post by the Clyst keeper but one goal proved enough to secure Beer’s passage into the semi-finals.

There were some outstanding contributions on both sides. For the visitors, centre back Chris Lane was a dominant figure, but sponsors Beer Coastguards awarded the Man of the Match honour to Beer midfielder John Cooper.

On Saturday (January 19) Beer will need to be at the top of their game for the home league fixture against Cronies. Kick-off at the Furzebrake is at 2:15 pm and the match sponsors are Kenworthy and Arbourne Builders.

Beer Reserves, who drew 2-2 away at Clyst Valley Reserves last Saturday, are away to Winchester for a Division Three encounter.

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