Ottery St Mary were 2-1 winners when they travelled across to meet Joma Devon & Exeter League Premier Division outfit Kentisbeare in a pre-season game.
Given that the Otters had lost their only other pre-season outing – suffering a 6-1 defeat at Western League Bishops Lydeard, they journeyed to Mid Devon ‘with something to prove’.
Their match planning was given a boost by the return of some key players and also the addition of fresh faces meant that the Otters were able to start the contest very much, on the front foot.
However, in what was a generally good all-round performance the Otters enjoyed long spells of possession, but it was a lack of a final shot that meant the score line at the halfway point of this contest was 0-0.
Once again there was a quartet of the new Ottery St Mary Under-18 team involved and Jake Haggerty, Jack Drew-Cull, Haydon Simpson and Lewis Ayley all got invaluable men’s football experience and, indeed, all four impressed.
There was more of the same in terms of the Otters enjoying the lions share of the ball and their endeavours were finally rewarded when a perfect through-ball from Sam found Liam Carey and, when the latter was hauled down in the area, it was Carey who got up, dusted himself off and dispatched his penalty with a thunderous drive.
A single goal lead soon became a 2-0 advantage with Curt Winchcombe providing the assist with a lofted through-ball that the fleet footed Marcus Fanson raced onto before rounding the home goalkeeper and rolling the ball into an empty net.
As the half wore on, the Otters began to tire and a host of changes left the midfield and defence a little unsettled which was seized upon by the home side who scored a fine goal when a cross to the far post was headed home.
However, that was as good as it got for the home team as Ottery were quick to take back control of the contest and, but for some excellent home defending, the one goal advantage would surely have been added to before the final whistle.
Speaking after the game, Ottery manager Billy Rouse said: “What a different set of emotions you have as a manager when you start the game with a proper goalkeeper! (this in reference to the fact that, at Bishops Lydeard, Rouse himself had to play as a ‘stand-in’ glovesman for the first 45 minutes). On reflection, when I look back at the first game, Saturday’s opponents couldn’t have come before us at a worse time.
“We were set up to fail, but I feel we learnt valuable lessons, lessons that we carried into the game at Kentisbeare where our ball retention was so much better and we pressed really well off the ball.”
He continued: “At Kentisbeare, the lads did everything but score the goals that their all-round performance warranted. It was a huge improvement on Saturday and I was delighted that we were able to give new players their first minutes for the club and also to blood the youngsters again.
“We’re still seven players missing from last years first team due to injury and isolation, but the lads who played stepped up showed they are more than capable of taking the shirts.
“We now have two training sessions before next weeks friendly against St Martins.”