Exmouth Town three points off top spot after latest Western League success
PUBLISHED: 13:11 14 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:11 14 January 2020
Exmouth Town extended their unbeaten run to 11 games when they overcame Roman Glass St. George last Saturday in a game where the visitors belied their lowly league position and made Town battle throughout the almost 100 minutes of action before they were able to record a 2-1 victory, writes John Dibsdall.
Town were by far the better side in the first half and could have been two goals to the good before James Richards struck a 30-yard free-kick into the bottom corner for the opening goal on 22 minutes.
Nine minutes later and Town suffered a setback that could pose serious problems for the remainder of the season when Robbie Powell landed awkwardly and was stretchered off the field and taken to hospital.
The prognosis is better than feared with a severe sprain to the ankle rather than ligament damage although he will be missing for a number of weeks.
With Dave Rowe deputising in goal, Town continued to attack and were rewarded when another Richards shot was too hot for the 'keeper to hold and Jordan Harris gobbled up the rebound.
With the five minutes of added time for Powell's injury almost played anyone that had left for an early half time cuppa missed the dramatic ending to the half.
A reckless challenge on Jimmy Hinds led to a melee involving most of the players and, when order was restored the offending player received a straight red, Hinds and Rowe picked up yellows, but the visiting manager and another official in the away dugout also received straight reds for comments made to the officials.
Life is never dull at Town games this season, but any ill-feeling by the players was left in the changing rooms and both sides concentrated on the football in the second half.
Town had two clear chances to increase their lead in the opening 10 minutes of the second half. Hinds flashed a header wide and Richards was foiled by the 'keeper when clear on goal.
Those misses seemed to spur the visitors on and despite playing with ten men they took the game to Town and deservedly pulled a goal back on seventy minutes.
As proved before, this Town team are nothing but resilient and whilst the play became very scrappy they were able to manage the remainder of the game to secure the three points that leaves them just three points off the top spot with a game in hand on Plymouth Parkway and Bradford Town who were both successful in their FA Vase fourth round matches.
They also reached the quarter-finals of the Les Phillips Cup (the Western League knock-out cup) when they overcame Shepton Mallet last Tuesday.
Town went into the tie at Shepton with six changes from the previous Saturday's line-up and The Mallet started this tie strongly as you would expect from a side that were unbeaten since their defeat in a league game at Town on November 30.
Five wins and one draw had seen them score 23 goals and concede just four and Robbie Powell had to be alert to make a decent save in the opening minute.
Town created a chance of their own when Jordan Harris shot from a narrow angle when a pass was a better option but they were indebted to Powell for another good save and from his clearance the ball was played into the opposition penalty area where Callum Shipton continued his goal scoring run calmly beating his marker and rifling the ball home.
The game was played at an excellent pace and end to end. After Harris had seen his shot saved Ace High was then perfectly placed to prevent a certain goal with a strong header on the goal line.
The home side equalised on fifty five minutes when a speculative 20 yard drive crept in at the far post.
Town's winner on sixty seven minutes was entirely down to the tenacity and perseverance of Aarron Denny. Chasing a long pass he harassed the fullback into making a hurried back pass to his 'keeper.
This was under hit allowing Denny to close down the 'keeper and block his intended clearance and to the delight of the players, management and travelling supporters the ball flew into the top corner of the goal.
The Mallet pressed hard for a goal to take the tie to penalties but with Powell immaculate in his handling of crosses and a no-nonsense defensive attitude Town saw out the game to earn their place in the quarter-final.
This Saturday (January 18) Town are away to Chipping Sodbury and whilst they are struggling at the wrong end of the table they were 3-1 winners over Wellington last Saturday and beat Roman Glass 2-1 over the Christmas period.
Town are again in cup action on Wednesday week (January 22), when they travel to Willand Rovers for a quarter-final tie in the St Lukes Bowl (kick off 7.30pm).