Bridgwater United 0, Exmouth Town 2
Toolstation Western League
AFTER a dominant first half performance, the Robins allowed Exmouth to come strongly back into the game in the second half and slipped to their first defeat in seven matches, writes Mark Hollidge.
United should have been able to establish a lead in the first half at Fairfax Park yesterday but were a bit shot shy and lacked the killer instinct.
Exmouth completely failed to feature as an attacking force in the first 45 but after the break they controlled what happened and United were shut out.
It was obvious that Exmouth would pose a significant physical challenge from the outset with some aggressive tackling and two early yellow cards.
Attacking free kicks and corner kicks have become an abundant goal source for United in recent times but the tall Exmouth defenders and the willingness of keeper Robbie Powell to come for and catch the balls in the air, stifled United’s hopes.
From an early free kick Adnan Hiroli’s goalbound shot was blocked. Several other free kicks came to nothing, and chances were few. Jake Viney, in the first half, could have sat down in his penalty area for a three-course meal, there was so little for him to do at the back.
The period between the half hour and the half time whistle was the time when United should have made Exmouth pay.
Morgan Williams teed up Tom Llewellyn for a shot which was a yard too high. A brilliant exchange of rat-a-tat passes between Tom Llewellyn and Adnan Hiroli allowed the latter to shoot from 15 yards, but Powell saved it.
Powell also saved at the foot of a post from a Williams’ shot on the run and Williams glanced a Jake Llewellyn corner kick narrowly wide. The final part of this quintet of chances was the best one. Somehow Tom Llewellyn wriggled past two defenders but missed the goal by a tiny margin to the left.
Maybe it was Exmouth’s plan to draw the sting from United’s attack in the first half and be more progressive in the second half. If it was a plan, it worked well. Right from the resumption, the game looked, and was, very different.
Ben Steer on the left wing started to have fun and looked dangerous. His low shot was easy enough for Viney. Viney then made life hard for himself by driving a clearance against Jordan Harris. The ball rebounded towards goal and there was a foot race between the two protagonists to get to it first. Harris fouled United’s keeper in trying to get to the ball and the danger passed.
Short of ideas
United still seemed rather flat and a bit short of ideas and Harris should have scored from Aaron Denny’s inside pass. Surprisingly, the experienced marksman poked wide when it looked easier to score.
With all the action now in United’s half it came as no surprise when Exmouth scored after 63 minutes. As he had done a few times, Steer cut in from the left wing and struck a rising shot from 20 yards across the goal and inside the right post.
United did raise themselves and Jordan Greenwood was unlucky when his forceful shot, following a Tom Llewellyn free kick, was cleared from either on or near the goal line.
Exmouth scored again after 73 minutes. Greenwood looked to have a lofted ball under his control, but Harris muscled in, stole the ball, and dispatched it past Viney at the near post with aplomb.
Exmouth looked well in control but United still possessed some threat. With just over ten minutes to play a thunderous volley from Jacob Spence somehow evaded the target. Nobody could have stopped it had it been aimed between the sticks. Spence was one of the top performers on the day – strong, purposeful and error free.
The final goal threat came from Exmouth when Ace High’s looping header hit the crossbar.
United could not really have any complaints about the result. This mature, experienced Exmouth side played a wise game.
United didn’t give their fans a 90 performance. The second half showing was well below par and contrasted with the thrilling, lung-busting efforts seen in the cup game on the previous Saturday.
Bridgwater United: Jake Viney, Ross Edwards (Dave Thorne), Jake Llewellyn, Mark Armstrong, Jordan Greenwood, Jacob Spence, Adnan Hiroli, Morgan Williams (Otis Lewis), Jack Taylor, Tom Llewellyn, Harry Horton (George King). Unused subs: Ryan Brereton, Marcel Lewis
Exmouth Town: Robbie Powell, Ethan Slater, Dan Cullen, Mark Lever, Dave Rowe, Max Gillard, Aaron Denny, Callum Shipton, Ace High, Jordan Harris, Ben Steer. Subs: Morgan Cullen, Kevin Hill, Dan Bore
Referee: Kristin Gould
- UNITED’S next outing is on Boxing Day travel to the Playing Fields to face 12th-placed Shepton Mallet (3pm).