Exmouth Town bank first Devon Premier Cup final berth for 20 years with win over Stoke Gabriel
PUBLISHED: 09:30 27 March 2013 | UPDATED: 12:15 29 March 2013
Exmouth Town reached the final of the Devon Premier Cup for the first time since 1980 when they overcame Stoke Gabriel 2-0. at Cullompton Rangers' Speeds Meadow ground on Wednesday night, writes John Dibsdall.
They will meet the leaders of the South Devon League, Buckland Athletic Reserves who were 1-0 winners over Exeter University. The final will be played at the Devon FA Headquarters in Newton Abbot on Thursday May 9.
In a match played in a strong swirling wind with snow falling Town’s game plan was to restrict the opposition in the first half when the conditions were against them and then capitalise in the second. It needed an excellent save from Liam Jones to ensure the sides went into the break all square and the first part of the plan completed. Once again the central defensive partnership of Ben Clay and Sam Woodin were equal to their task and despite having the territorial advantage expected at no time did Stoke apply any sustained pressure.
With the advantage of playing down the slope and with the wind behind Town now took the game to their opponents. Driven forward from midfield by Alex Greening and Jamie Moore they gained control but were unable to create any clear cut chances. Stoke for their part defended resolutely and you began to wonder if either side could break the deadlock. Step forward Lloyd Gardner. He had been targeted by Stoke as Town’s match winner when the sides had met in the Throgmorton Cup and had been subject to some “robust” tackling. This time he was to exact revenge in spectacular style. On sixty five minutes there appeared to be no immediate danger when he collected the ball just inside Stoke’s half. A jink inside, a change of pace, a left foot thunder bolt that swerved and the ‘keeper was suddenly grasping at thin air. Should he have got a hand to it? Who cares: Town were ahead.
Stoke had threatened once in the half with Jones saving with his legs and whilst they now pushed men forward in search of the equaliser they failed to unlock Town’s defence.
With the clock running down Gardner still had one more trick in his locker when Town were awarded a free kick forty yards out. His shot was low and powerful, too strong for the ‘keeper to hold as it squirmed from his grasp and into the net to give Town a win their overall performance merited.