Stand-in glovesman Bartlett stars as Fishermen net deserved point

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Football generic picture - Credit: Archant

Beer Albion welcomed Devon and Exeter Premier League new boys Cronies at home on Saturday and came out with a creditable 1-1 draw in a thoroughly entertaining match, writes Richard Honnor.

It was the high-scoring, unbeaten Cronies’ first ever visit to Beer Albion, and one thing they will have learned is that the Furzebrake is never an easy place for away sides to get a result no matter how successful they are!

The Fishermen played with intensity and passion, matching their opponents throughout and almost snatched the win in the dying moments when unmarked midfielder Simon Smith had a great opportunity, but shot straight at impressive keeper Ashley Smith from eight yards out. It was hard on Smith who had worked tirelessly for his team.

The tempo of the game was set early on with both sides playing attacking, direct football, making for end-to-end excitement throughout. Both sides had early chances but lacked finishing composure. Beer were missing the quality of unavailable player-manager Richard Walker up front, and the keeper Simon Jones, who was unwell.

Reserve glovesman Henry Bartlett stood in and the youngster made his mark on 32 minutes with a flying save at full stretch from a 20-yard free kick. He made another fine save three minutes later when Cronies’ Liam Carey unleashed a fierce 15-yarder after a jinking run.

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The Cronies got their noses in front just before half-time. A Beer attack broke down when their striker Chris Long lost possession. The visitors countered quickly, catching the Fishermen’s defence square with a through ball to the dangerous Carey, who slotted expertly past the advancing Bartlett on 43 minutes.

The Fishermen were not overawed and, spurred on by vociferous home support, they took the game to the Cronies.

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Midfielder Pedro Fontes went close on 48 minutes, shooting just wide from 20 yards after Long’s effort ricocheted to him off a Cronies defender. Then keeper Bartlett made another important stop on 60 minutes from close range to keep his team in the game.

Beer were competing fiercely for every ball and on occasions over-zealously, resulting in bookings for John Cooper, Chris Long, and Jacob Clode.

Cronies were rattled as Beer pushed forward and found themselves under increasing pressure as the game entered the final quarter. Finally the Beer equaliser came on 78 minutes when Chris Long hit a spectacular strike from 22 yards into the top right corner.

Cronies almost went ahead a minute later when a low shot-cum-cross from the right wing hit the far post.

Undaunted, the Fishermen pressed hard for the winning goal. On 80 minutes George Harwood’s fine cross found Clode, whose fierce shot was well saved by Ashley Smith. The keeper then made the crucial block to thwart Simon Smith on 88 minutes to keep his side’s unbeaten record intact.

There were some outstanding performances for Beer. Centre back Kieron Love was commanding throughout, but the Man of the Match honour, awarded by sponsors, The Cloth Shop, Seaton and Crewkerne, deservedly went to keeper Bartlett. For Cronies, Liam Carey was their outstanding player.

On Saturday (November 11), Beer Albion travel to Feniton for a Macron League Premier Division match while Beer Reserves are at home to table-topping Winchester in a Division Four contest.

Kick-off at the Furzebrake is at 2.15pm and the match sponsors are Clinton Devon Estates.

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