High strike seals massive win for title seeking Exmouth Town

PUBLISHED: 14:53 09 April 2013 | UPDATED: 14:53 09 April 2013

Exmouth Town AFC took on Stoke Gabriel at the weekend. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exsp 8945-15-13AW. To order your copy of this photograph, go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on myphotos24

Exmouth Town AFC took on Stoke Gabriel at the weekend. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exsp 8945-15-13AW. To order your copy of this photograph, go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on myphotos24

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Exmouth Town 2, Stoke Gabriel 1

Town strengthened their grip on the SWPL East Division title when they secured a vital 2-1 victory over Stoke Gabriel last Saturday, writes John Dibsdall.

Going into the match Stoke were lying second in the table but the win means Town are now twelve points clear of their South Devon rivals and ten points clear of Budleigh Salterton who have played two games more.

Following their 2-1 defeat by Elburton Villa in the semi-final of the Throgmorton Cup, coming on the back of their Good Friday league defeat it was imperative that Town got back to winning ways.

Both sides had early chances to score with Lloyd Gardner producing a decent save from the keeper before shooting narrowly wide when put clear by Ace High. The opening goal came on fifteen minutes in controversial circumstances. A header from Gardner was tipped onto the crossbar and Phil Everett saw his shot from the rebound handled on the line. Gardner then forced the ball home but it appeared that the referee had blown for the handball. The ‘goal’ was then allowed to stand with no action being taken for the deliberate handball. Both sides enjoyed periods of possession but Town closed out the half without difficulty.

Seven minutes into the second half and Town doubled their lead. Andrew Thomson played a delightful pass to High on the edge of the penalty box who masterfully turned his marker and smashed the ball home. Town were now coasting to victory but their momentum was halted on sixty six minutes when ‘keeper Liam Jones suffered an injury to his right shoulder. After receiving lengthy treatment Jones was able to continue but in obvious difficulty. Stoke looking to take full advantage of this unexpected opportunity began to apply pressure and pulled a gaol back on eighty five minutes. Looking for the equaliser they spurned one glorious chance and then Town had to hold firm through twelve minutes of added time.

This was the fourth meeting between the sides this season and as you would expect was highly competitive but played in an excellent spirit. There were no reckless challenges, no blatant fouls and despite the firm pitch both teams tried to play open and attractive football. It was therefore pleasing to note that no yellow cards were shown until the eighty second minute.

What was hard to imagine and became the major talking point for both sets of players and management after the game was a further eleven cards were issued in the remaining eight minutes plus added time!!!

Last night Town were home to the University of Exeter (see www.exmouthjournal.co.uk for details), and are again in action at Southern Road this Saturday when Exeter Civil Service are the visitors kick off 3.00pm. The one major concern will be the fitness of Liam Jones who has been ever present in the Town side this season.

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