Exmouth Town start season with a draw

Dave Rowe of Exmouth Town

Dave Rowe of Exmouth Town - Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

“A draw was a fair result” was the general reaction to Town’s opening match in their new Western League campaign.  
In front of a crowd of 275, Town’s highest league attendance since they gained promotion to the League for the 2019/20 season, they came from a goal down to take the lead before an equalising goal from Clevedon with two minutes remaining of the ninety brought them a share of the spoils. 
Town were missing three regulars with Ace High and Cullum Shipton self-isolating and James Richards working but had the opportunity to make a perfect start. Clear on goal in the opening minute, Ben Steer was hacked down from behind for a nailed-on penalty.  
Jordan Harris, Town’s leading goal scorer over the past two seasons, stepped up but went for placement rather than power and saw his spot-kick comfortably saved. 
This save gave the visitors the confidence to take the game to Town and after Robbie Powell had had his fingers burnt with a fierce drive, the visitors had a penalty of their own, making no mistake with a drive into the top corner on 25 minutes.  
After Harris had a header cleared off the line, Clevedon had a gilt-edged chance to double their lead but faced with a one-on-one, Powell was equal to the task, standing tall to foil the attacker. 
This save proved crucial, as on 40 minutes, Steer’s trickery saw him ride a couple of challenges before his perseverance paid dividends when he found the corner of the net from a narrow angle. 
Fortunate to be level at the break, Town tweaked their playing formation for the start of the second half, reverting to a back four (rather than three) and immediately took the game to their opponents. Steer flashed another drive across the face of the goal before scoring his second on 62 minutes. An excellent cross from Dan Cullen was only half cleared and there was Steer to smash home the loose ball. 
Birthday boy Dave Rowe thought he had increased Town’s lead with a fine header but was adjudged to be offside before Clevedon pushed more men forward looking for their equaliser.  
After a long cross to the far post was headed narrowly wide, a similar move led to another free header but this time the ball was headed back across goal and turned home from within the six-yard box. 
An entertaining game where neither side did quite enough to deserve victory. Town missed the energy of Richards and Shipton and the aerial strength of High, but overall a satisfactory performance against a side that will have top six ambitions. 
Town are in action tonight (Wednesday) at Street who lost their opening game 3-1 to Brislington and on Saturday travel to Buckland Athletic to contest the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup. Ex-Town player, Nathan Cooper, was twice on the scoresheet as they won 4-3 at Bridgwater United last Saturday. If the sides are level after 90 minutes then there will be a replay at Southern Road on Wednesday, August 11. If there is a result, then Town will be home to Wellington in a league game on that night, ko 7.30pm.

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