Three goals, three red cards and an outfield player in goal, Exmouth Town win drama-filled match against Roman Glass St George

PUBLISHED: 18:53 11 January 2020 | UPDATED: 19:08 11 January 2020

Exmouth Town at home to Barnstaple in a FA Cup game. Ref exsp 33 19TI 0234. Picture: Terry Ife

Exmouth Town at home to Barnstaple in a FA Cup game. Ref exsp 33 19TI 0234. Picture: Terry Ife

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Exmouth Town closed the gap between themselves and Toolstation Western League leaders Plymouth Parkway to just three points as they beat Roman Glass St George 2-1 at Southern Road.

A free kick effort from James Richards in the 22nd minute opened the match's scoring before Exmouth's advantage was doubled in the 45+1st minute by Jordan Harris.

Goals were not the only action of the half though as an injury to Robbie Powell forced Dave Rowe to take up the unfamiliar position of goalkeeper before a late Roman Glass challenge sparked a brawl that saw three red cards issued to the away side including two of the coaching staff.

The visitors pulled one back in the 70th minute through Troy Simpson but Town held on to secure the win.

With the top two sides [Plymouth Parkway and Bradford Town] both in FA Vase action, Saturday's game represented an opportunity for Exmouth to reduce the six-point gap and play one of the two games in hand that came as a result of Town's participation in various cup competitions at the start of the season.

Going into the game, Exmouth were on a fine run of form having picked up five consecutive wins. Roman Glass, meanwhile, had secured victory in just one of their last five games.

The 14-place difference between the two sides was evident in the opening 10 minutes when the home side could have taken the lead on two occasions. Richards struck a volley wide in the 4th minute before Ace High also missed an effort.

After weathering the early storm, Roman Glass did gain some composure but it was still the boys in blue on top.

The pressure eventually paid dividends in the 22nd minute when Town were awarded a free kick to the left of the penalty area. Richards drilled a low ball in and away keeper Ross Grimshaw may have been suspecting a touch from one of the attackers as the ball was left free to find the bottom right corner.

10 minutes later and there was drama at the other end when a coming together between Exmouth keeper Powell and a Roman Glass attacker left the Town number one in visible pain.

The stretcher was eventually needed but with no reserve goalkeeper on the bench, Rowe, who had up until this point been playing as part of the back four, donned the gloves.

The new goalkeeper's every move was greeted by cheers from the Southern Road crowd regardless of the difficulty.

With time ticking down in the first period, Richards was again involved as his ranged effort was parried by Grimshaw but Harris was the first on the scene to stroke the ball home in the first minute of injury time.

The first-half drama was not done though as in the sixth additional minute a late challenge from a Roman Glass player sparked a melee between the two sets of players.

After it eventually cooled down, the referee brandished a red card to one of the visiting players before dismissing two of the coaching staff on the advice of his linesman.

With the home crowd expecting their side to capitalise on the man advantage, Exmouth did have chances early in the second half but Roman Glass did not look ready to fold just yet.

Their resistance allowed them a way back into the game in the 70th minute when a lofted free kick from Josh Cann was met well by the head of Simpson to halve the deficit.

A nervy 20 minutes ensued with the home side bringing everyone back to maintain the 1-0 lead, which they duly did.

The win sees them move within three points of first placed Plymouth Parkway and second placed Bradford Town who are both on 46 points but have played one game more than Town.

Exmouth now switch their attention to the cup with a Tuesday evening Les Phillips Cup quarter final tie away at Bridgwater Town.

Exmouth Town: Robbie Powell (Steve Avery 33'), Max Gillard, Jimmy Hinds, Jamie Dirrane, Dave Rowe, Tom Gardner, Aarron Denny, Ace High (Scott Merritt 63'), Jordan Harris, James Richards

Unused substitutes: Dan Boere, Kieran Willdigg, Jamie Vaughan-Ryan

Man of the match: James Richards

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