MATCH REPORT: Exmouth Town FC see FA Cup run ended at Highworth

Exmouth Town FC saw their journey in the FA Cup finally come to an end after their fourth game against higher league opposition became one hurdle too many, writes John Dibsdall. 

But Town can hold their heads up high after a battling second half performance at Highworth Town that had the travelling support of around 100 truly believing that the impossible would become the possible.

I’m not sure why, but Town were clearly off their game in the first half and conceded goals in the sixth and 28th minutes.

The pitch at Highworth seemed to slope in different directions, but was generally in the home side’s favour in the first half and they took full advantage to dictate play.

In rare attacks, Jordan Harris and Aarron Denny had half chances that were competently dealt with by the home ‘keeper.

The second half was a completely different affair, as from the restart Town dominated to the extent that the home side were clearly rattled which led to a red card.

Town took full advantage, with Max Gilbert getting to the byeline and crossing for Harris to net.

For me, the turning point came four minutes later.

As a corner was only cleared to the edge of the box, Dave Rowe hit a thunderous shot destined to break the net but the ‘keeper performed heroics to get a hand on the ball and divert it onto the crossbar.

Chances came and went as Town forced a series of corners, but, as they continued to press, they were caught on the break with seven minutes remaining when one of two players signed minutes before the deadline on the previous day scored a well taken goal.

Added time certainly gave the spectators value for money as first Harris was sent off, Highworth added a fourth and then Denny hit a screamer to make the scoreline more respectable.

The trip to Highworth Town was the result of a magnificent performance on Tuesday evening when Exmouth Town overcame Yate Town 2-0 in their replay following the 2-2 draw at Yate.

Before kick-off, there was a minute’s silence in memory of Allan Sharp who had recently passed away following a long battle with cancer.

Allan was heavily involved in the club in the 80s and 90s, including groundsman, bar steward and committee member.

He was a life member and continued to support Town until his illness finally won.

His wife Heather and daughters Claire and Rachel were present at the game along with other members of the family and the players gave him a fitting send off with a superb win in front of a crowd of 451.

Jordan Harris had the first opening for Town, but was denied by the visiting ‘keeper and Ben Steer saw his strong shot also well saved.

Yate played their brand of passing football and had one header shave the cross bar as the sides went into the break on level terms.

Town made the perfect start to the second half when Steer reacted quickest to a loose ball following a challenge by Harris ‘hooking the ball home from close range with just two minutes of the half played.

In a 10-minute spell, Town then saw an Ace High header pushed on to the crossbar and a shot from Harris was too hot for the ‘keeper to hold but the post came to his rescue.

The visitors continued to fully play their part in a pulsating match and Chris Wright made a couple of competent saves before Town doubled their lead on 64 minutes.

The pace of High troubled the Yate back line all night and his strong run and cross set up Aarron Denny to net at the far post.

Town introduced Ash Donahue to the fray for his first start for the club and his fierce left foot drive went narrowly wide as Town continued to press before they eased to victory in what was their best team performance for many a year.

As one door closes another door opens; this time two as Town are involved in FA Vase action this Saturday with a trip to Cadbury Heath and on Tuesday evening travel up the M5 again to visit Almonsbury in the Les Phillips Cup (Western League Cup).

Exmouth Town FC should have Ace High, James Richards and Callum Shipton back all of whom were unavailable for the trip to Highworth.

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