Premier Division title race set to go down to the wire

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GOAL: Lyme Regis Reserves’ midfielder Steve Batey (16) heads a corner down and through the legs of Dunkeswell Rovers’ keeper Will Cowley to put the Seasiders 5-0 up. Photo by HOWARD LARCOMBE

BEER Albion’s great run of form continues as they pulled off a fabulous 2-1 victory at Okehampton Argyle on Saturday.

Okehampton Argyle 1 Beer Albion 2
Devon & Exeter League Premier Division
THE fourth-placed Okies were previously unbeaten in 14 games and their most recent scalp had been title-chasing Newton whom they thrashed 6-1 last Thursday writes Richard Honnor.
So this was a magnificent result and the Fishermen fully deserved their victory. Beer’s win was based on the formula that has worked so successfully for them in this campaign – a strong defence, a potent goal threat and teamwork. The latter quality was in abundance on Saturday and it would be hard to pick out one individual, but player-boss Richard Walker’s all-round contribution was outstanding.
Okehampton, full of confidence, made the early running and Beer were allowing their skilful front players too much space to shoot in and around the penalty box. But keeper Mark Rooke was in commanding form made two early saves to keep his side on level terms.
The Fishermen gradually settled and on 10 minutes centre back Joe Adkin headed home from Simon Smith’s corner but was adjudged to have fouled the Okehampton keeper in the process. The Okies always looked dangerous going forward, in contrast,their defence looked vulnerable through the entire game against the Fishermen’s twin strike force of Walker and Chris Long.
After Walker had gone close, there was a moment of controversy on 17 minutes when Long’s effort from 15 yards was fumbled by Okies keeper and appeared to have crossed the line before being clawed to safety. But the goal was not given. As the half progressed there was action at both ends. In the 24th minute Walker’s effort was thwarted by the Okies keeper, then Rooke saved a swerving effort with his legs, followed by Adkin again getting on the end of Smith corner but volleying over.
But Beer went behind on 37 minutes when they failed to close out a swift Okehampton break and the ball was fired home from the edge of the penalty box. The Fishermen started the second half sluggishly and passed the initiative to the home side by giving the ball away too easily. But the Oke s defence looked vulnerable when Beer countered and on 55 minutes midfielder Alex Hunt found Luke Bartlett with a through pass but Bartlett was unable to force the ball past the keeper.
Beer were now getting on top and two minutes later, wing back George Harwood and Long combined to provide a great chance for Walker who got behind Okies defence but his attempted lob was clutched by the home keeper. But the Fishermen deservedly equalised on the hour. Walker intercepted a poor pass and threaded the ball through to Long who beat the Okies keeper from 12 yards with an expert finish.
Chances continued to come and go at both ends until the 79th minute when Joe Adkin scored a fine winner for the Fishermen. The Okehampton keeper could only palm out another deep, inswinging Smith corner to the Beer centre back who volleyed in from an acute angle. The game erupted three minutes later when Okehampton’s had a player sent off by referee Julie Knight for retaliation following a high challenge from Beer substitute Jacob Clode. Clode was yellow-carded for the foul.
The Okies were reduced to nine men, five minutes later when their substitute was dismissed for abusive language to referee Knight after an offside call went against the home side. Despite being down to nine, the home side threw everything at Beer in the final 10 minutes but the Fishermen held on for a fully deserved three points.

D&E Round-up with Howard Larcombe
A BEN Ashford goal salvaged a point and kept Honiton Town on course for their first ever Devon & Exeter League Premier Division title.
But visitors Elmore, who themselves are still in with a chance of getting their hands on the silverware, left Mountbatten Park clutching their valuable point leaving the Hippos still probably needing to win both of their two remaining fixtures to finish as top dogs.
Remaining fixtures:
Honiton Town: H v Beer Albion (Saturday, April 22nd), H v Exmouth Amateurs (Saturday, April 29th).
Newtown: H v Okehampton (Wednesday, April 19th), H v Feniton (Saturday, April 22nd), H v Bow AAC (Wednesday, April 26th), H v Beer Albion (Saturday, April 29th).
Elmore: H v Exmouth Amateurs (Wednesday, April 19th), A v Heavitree Utd (Saturday, April 22nd), H v Clyst Valley (Wednesday, April 26th), A v Bow AAC (Saturday, April 29th), H v Feniton (Wednesday, May 3rd).

Meanwhile, Seaton Town trailed 1-0 at Hatherleigh Town before bouncing back to record a battling 4-3 win with goals from Josh French, Matt Hancock, Jacob Rowe and Seth Wakeley.
Down in Division Three striker Tom Perry bagged five goals as Perry Street celebrated their title win in fine style with a 9-1 hammering of hosts Newton Poppleford. Billy Sheahan (2), Ben Smith and Steve Every had the others for ‘Street.
Over at the Davey Fort Lyme Regis Reserves remain firmly in the mix for the Division Six promotion places after destroying Dunkeswell 8-0. Steve Batey (2), Julien Simier (2), Dec Ellis, Sam Bevis, Ryan Fifer and an OG made up the Seasiders’ goal tally.

PERRY STREET LEAGUE
Farway Utd 4 Winsham Utd Res 3
Tommy Jabberer Cup  Semi final
FARWAY United reached the Tommy Tabberer Cup final for the first time in 37 years at a windy Eastlee Park.
The hosts, 2-0 in front at half time, led all the way, but were grateful to a fine penalty save by keeper Phil Woodley to dent Ian Hilton his second spot kick goal of the game at 2-2. With six minutes remaining Farway scored twice and John Allen’s late goal counted for little. Corey Sutherland scored the hosts’ other goal with Jack Murrell (2), Matt Reed and Brad King on target for the Devonians.
Note: CHARMOUTH have been awarded a place in the Tommy Tabberer Cup Final after it was discovered by Perry Street League officials that Halstock had played an ineligible player in their 3-0 semi final win over the Robins at Barrs Lane on March 25th.
Cup Final details: Charmouth v Farway United (at Lyme Regis FC – Friday, May 5th, 6.15pm ko).

Sports Editor | Covering the whole of the Pulman’s/View From group of titles.
Howard has been covering sport in the East Devon, South Somerset and West Dorset region since 2007.

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