Ottery St Mary warmed up for their first Devon League KO Cup competition, an April 14 home meeting with University, by winning the second of what will be three friendly fixtures ahead of the cup competition that is replacing the prematurely ended league campaign, with a 3-2 midweek win at Sandy Lane against home side, Joma Devon & Exeter League, Premier East outfit, Dawlish.
In what was a well contested first 45 minutes, a trademark Danny Pym free-kick saw the Otters into the lead, but a stunning effort and a second goal that owed much to an Ottery defensive error, saw the home side into a 2-1 lead.
However, parity was restored when a Pym corner was turned in at the back post by the impressive Lorin Newcombe.
The second half saw more of the same, but with the Otters enjoying the greater possession, but without opening up the home defence on too many occasions.
It was not until the dying embers of the game that the contest was ultimately decided. It came when Matt Webb broke down the left and pulled the ball back to Billy Rouse. The Ottery player-boss saw his snap shot kept out by the impressive Dawlish glovesman, but, when the ball sprang free, there was Ash Small to tuck home the winning goal.
Speaking post match, Ottery boss Billy Rouse said: “What I do enjoy about football is that there is no such thing as a friendly. There is always a competitive edge to the matches – we saw that in the Friday meeting with Buckland and it was yery evident again in this contest at Sandy Lane.”
He continued: “I was really impressed with our performance. It was not the easiest of surfaces to play on, but I was delighted that we ‘found a way’.
“We missed good first half scoring opportunities, particularly by Loz [Lorin Newcombe], Dan Gill and Matt Webb and then, in the second half, Liam Carey was denied a certain goal by a stunning save from the very impressive home goalkeeper.
“That said, at the opposite end of the pitch I felt we were defensively, very sound.
“The goals we shipped were one outstanding volley and the second was certainly down to our own making as it was a goalkeeping error. However, 99 times out of 100 that error simply does not happen and, Jacob [Otters’ glovesman Jacob O’Callagan], is a very honest player and he was clearly disappointed. What’s more, he has been an outstanding contributor to our cause throughout the 20/21 season and it’s very much the case ‘that these things happen’ and, for me, what is so important, is that we accept such things and quickly brush ourselves down and get on w3ith the task at hand – and that’s what Jacob and indeed, the team, did.”
The Ottery boss added: “Sometimes it is also very important that we recognise the opposition contribution to a game and this was certainly one such case. Dawlish played some good football and I felt Lance Clark and Matt Anderson were very effective in their midfield – that pair are very much the heartbeat of their midfield and I felt that, as a team, Dawlish also kept a good shape and made it very difficult for us to get at their back four and indeed, break them down.”
“It’s also clear that they are doing some great work behind the scenes at Dawlish and knowing the lads running the show, I am really pleased for them.
“Now we must turn our attention to the next game – Saturday’s meeting with Alphington.”
Ottery the third of their three warm-up games when they meet Alphington at Washbrook Meadows on Saturday (April 10) and then, next Wednesday (April 14), the Otters begin their Scott Richards Solicitors Devon League Cup campaign with a home game against University (7pm).