Long at the double in Beer home success

Beer Albion at home to Witheridge. Ref shsp 04-18TI 6601. Picture: Terry Ife

Beer Albion at home to Witheridge. Ref shsp 04-18TI 6601. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Beer Albion defeated visiting Witheridge Reserves at the Furzebrake in one of only six games to beat the weather across the nine divisions of the Macron League on the third Saturday of 2018, writes Richard Honnor.

The Fishermen, without a league win since beating Feniton on November 11, made amends for the 5-2 defeat at Witheridge earlier in the season and move up to eighth in the Premier Division as a result of the victory.

From the first whistle, Beer showed much more purpose than in their lacklustre start against Seaton last week.

With player manager Richard Walker and midfielder Pedro Fontes starting matches for the first time in a while, the Fishermen carried a much greater threat than of late both up front and in midfield.

Although he missed a few chances on the day, the quality of Walker’s hold-up play and passing and strength on the ball proved a constant handful for Withies’ defence.

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In midfield, Fontes was more influential as the game progressed, playing a key role in holding things together after Witheridge threatened to dominate proceedings after their second-half equaliser.

The game was open from the outset. Centre back Joe Adkin set the tone for a solid display with an important saving tackle in the sixth minute.

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Plenty of chances came and went. On nine minutes, keeper Henry Bartlett made a fine save when Withies forward Brad Kelly found himself one-on-one with the young keeper after the Beer defence gave the ball away.

A minute later, Withies keeper Johns was at full stretch pushing Walker’s goal-bound left-footer round the post.

Then, on 14 minutes, Beer’s Chris Long failed to get a touch in front of an open goal after a good build up involving Walker and John Cooper.

The Fishermen were carrying the greater threat, but Walker missed a good chance on 17 minutes shooting straight at Johns and then curling a long-range effort just wide on 27 minutes. At the other end, Bartlett made a key save on 36 minutes finger-tipping a neat flick round the post.

Beer deservedly took the lead on 39 minutes. Alex Hunt competed well for the ball in midfield and passed to Walker, who in turn found Chris Long on the edge of the penalty box.

With defenders between him and the goal, the Beer striker cleverly managed to create enough of an opening to toe-poke home from 12 yards. Long was denied a second goal on 43 minutes when Johns made a fine save.

After the break, Witheridge started the stronger. They should have equalised on 46 minutes but failed to capitalise on a defensive mix up in the six-yard box. But the visitors only had to wait five more minutes for the equaliser when Kelly - whose pace had troubled the Beer defence throughout - cut in from the right leaving two Beer defenders in his wake to unleash an unstoppable left-footer high into the far corner.

Beer were now under the cosh and were lucky to survive on 52 minutes when a high left wing cross evaded Bartlett, but was headed over from close range. Although under pressure, Fishermen’s defenders Andrew Foster and Joe Adkin were in good form and gradually steadied the ship.

Beer’s midfield began to get a grip and a couple of chances were spurned before Long notched his second to put the Fishermen in front on 62 minutes.

Cooper hit another telling pass towards the left touchline, which held up in the breeze. The ball appeared to be going out harmlessly for a goal kick, but wing back Phillips didn’t give up the chase and got to the ball to serve up a high cross which Long calmly headed in from close range past a static Withies defence.

Long almost notched his hat-trick on 71 minutes, but had to go off when he was injured in a desperate saving tackle.

But as Witheridge pushed the extra man forward in search of the equaliser, Beer sealed the win when, on the break, Walker chased down another good through pass from Cooper and coolly finished past the advancing Withies keeper on 84 minutes.

The game was played in a fine spirit throughout and credit must be given to referee Mark Davis for allowing the game to flow.

Walker was pleased with how his side reacted after conceding the equaliser. He said: “This season, we have had a tendency to drop points or lose matches after going in front so I was delighted on how we responded today after losing the lead.”

Game sponsor, Jimmy Green Marine of Beer gave the Man of the Match award to the Fishermen’s centre back Andrew Foster for his faultless performance.

On Saturday (January 27), Beer host Clyst Valley in a Premier Division game (2.15pm).

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