A vastly improved performance saw Exmouth Town earn a well-deserved draw against Evesham United in their opening match of the new Southern League season, writes John Dibsdall.

The visitors, who finished fourth in the league last season, were well supported in the crowd of 265 which made for a great atmosphere and they were treated to a highly competitive game of football.

Town started brightly and opened the scoring on 14 minutes. Ben Steer’s trickery and timely cross was met by Ace High who buried his shot for his 133rd competitive goal for the club, an outstanding achievement for an Exmouth stalwart.

Town continued to press but the visitors grew into the game and Andrew Sowden-Bird had to make one excellent save to keep the lead intact. Exmouth finished the half on the front foot with Aarron Denny racing clear, rounding the ‘keeper but having his shot from a narrow angle cleared off the line.

Town had to make a substitution on the stroke of half time with Steer injured and he was replaced by Bradley Cox, who has recently moved to the area making his debut having played in the Southern League with Stourbridge.

It was, however, a half-time replacement made by the visitors that had an immediate effect with the substitute racing clear to send a 25-yard drive fizzing into the bottom corner.

As Evesham maintained the pressure, Sowden-Bird had to make another fine save and his composure under pressure was re-assuring and earned him Town’s man of the match award.

As the game entered, the final quarter Cox had one effort saved, Ethan Slater was denied by another fine stop and, in time added on, Slater had the chance to secure all three points but once again was denied by another excellent save.

Town travelled to Wimborne Town last night (Tuesday) but are without a game this Saturday. Next weekend, the August Bank Holiday weekend, they travel to Melksham Town on the Saturday and then entertain Bideford on the Monday.

Willand Rovers enjoyed a superb start on the weekend, with late goals from Owen Howe and Charlie Wright securing a 2-0 victory at Hamworthy United. Bideford bagged a 2-2 draw at newcomers Malvern Town but Tavistock suffered a surprise 2-1 loss at home to Bemerton Heath.