Exmouth Town shared the spoils with Clevedon Town in front of an excellent first day Southern Road turnout of 275, writes John Dibsdall.
Post match the general reaction was one of: “A draw was a fair result”, and it would be hard to argue against that.
In front of a crowd of Town’s highest league attendance since they gained promotion to the League for the 2019/20 season, they came from a goal down to take the lead before an equalising goal from the visitors with two minutes remaining of the ninety brought them a share of the spoils.
Town were missing three regulars with Ace High and Cullum Shipton self-isolating and James Richards working, but had the opportunity to make a perfect start.
Clear on goal in the opening minute Ben Steer was hacked down from behind for a nailed on penalty.
Jordan Harris, Town’s leading goal scorer over the past two seasons, stepped up but went for placement rather than power and saw his spot kick comfortably saved.
This save gave the visitors the confidence to take the game to Town and after Robbie Powell had had his fingers burnt with a fierce drive the visitors had a penalty of their own making no mistake with a drive into the top corner with twenty five minutes played.
After Harris had a header cleared off the line Clevedon had a gilt edged chance to double their lead but faced with a one on one Powell was equal to the task standing tall to foil the attacker.
This save proved crucial as on forty minutes Steer’s trickery saw him ride a couple of challenges before his perseverance paid dividends when he found the corner of the net from a narrow angle.
Fortunate to be level at the break Town tweaked their playing formation for the start of the second half reverting to a back four (rather than three) and immediately took the game to their opponents. Steer flashed another drive across the face of the goal before scoring his second on sixty two minutes.
An excellent cross from Dan Cullen was only half cleared and there was Steer to smash home the loose ball.
Birthday boy Dave Rowe thought he had increased Town’s lead with a fine header but was adjudged to be offside before Clevedon pushed more men forward looking for their equaliser. After a long cross to the far post was headed narrowly wide a similar move led to another free header but this time the ball was headed back across goal and turned home from within the six yard box.
An entertaining game where neither side did quite enough to deserve victory. Town missed the energy of Richards and Shipton and the aerial strength of High but overall a satisfactory performance against a side that will have top six ambitions.
Town are in back in action on Wednesday (August 4) when they travel to face a Street outfit who lost their opening game 3-1 to Brislington and then, on Saturday (August 7), Town travel to Buckland Athletic to contest the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup.
Ex Town player, Nathan Cooper, was twice on the score sheet as Buckland Athletic won 4-3 at Bridgwater United last Saturday.
If the sides are level after 90 minutes then there will be a replay at Southern Road on Wednesday August 11th. If there is a result than Town will be home to Wellington in a league game on that night ko 7.30pm.