Stoke Gabriel 3, Exmouth Town 4

Town’s trip to Stoke Gabriel was a real roller coaster of a ride as Town extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to nine matches, writes John Dibsdall.

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The opening twenty minutes saw the hosts hit the crossbar and Town debutant Andy Thomson bring a save from the home ‘keeper.

Hesitant defending saw Town go a goal down on 26 minutes, but they responded well and a fine move involving Thomson and Ben Shephard finished with a Kerry Butler shot that grazed the outside of the post.

Two goals in two minutes just before half-time put Town in the driving seat. Both were due to the perseverance of the players involved as first Karl Rickard and then Ben Shephard rode two challenges before calmly slotting the ball past the ‘keeper.

As the goals continued to flow Stoke were on level terms ten minutes into the second half when a well struck low effort found the corner of the net.

Back came Town and ten minutes later they regained the lead. A strong run and cross from Lloyd Gardner was helped on for Thomson, like Rickard, score on his debut for the club.

Three minutes later the hosts were down to ten men. Having used their only sub they had no-one to replace that player when he sustained a serious knee injury. Credit should go to Town physio Bob Chard, who immediately recognised the gravity of the injury and rushed on to treat the player as Stoke were without a physio of their own.

Stoke were then indebted to their keeper who made a string of fine saves. A 20-yard strike from Jamie Moore looking every inch a goal until a fingertip save.

A fourth goal would have killed the game off, but Stoke, with ten minutes remaining, equalised again with a twenty yard drive into the top corner.

A pulsating match was finally decided in the ninetieth minute when good work again by Thomson saw him cross for Adam Fowler to score his first goal for the club with another strong drive that gave the ‘keeper no chance.

This Saturday Town are back in Cup action, this time the Devon Premier Cup when they travel to North Devon Premier League side Chittlehampton, kick off 2.00pm

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