Exmouth Town Football Club marched into the next round of the FA Cup with a superb all-round display that saw them win 3-1 away at Keynsham Town, writes John Dibsdall.
What made the result all the more impressive was the fact that, on both occasions they travelled to play on artificial surfaces last season, Town had been beaten – losing 1-0 at Keynsham and 3-2 at Roman Glass St George.
Town were clearly well-prepared for this game and it was obvious from the first whistle that they were determined not to lose a third successive game on such a surface.
As early as the third minute, Aarron Denny, showing no signs of the thigh injury that had affected his pre-season, volleyed a dipping shot that drew a fine save from the home custodian.
Soon after, last season’s top scorer, Jordan Harris, who had failed to find the net in the pre-season games, shot narrowly wide.
The goal Town clearly deserved for their early endeavours came on 16 minutes when a fine passing move saw Harris get onto the end of a slick passing move and he made no mistake, tucking the ball inside the near post.
Town doubled their lead on 25 minutes with a goal borne out of many hours spent on the training ground – though perhaps not with the end result they had planned.
A corner was played to Harris on the edge of the area and, when his shot was blocked, the ball spiralled up into the air and Town stalwart, defender David Rowe, executed a perfect overhead kick and the ball flew into the back of the net.
Town continued to dominate through to the break and the home goal led a charmed life as Ace High saw a shot cannon back off a post before the impressive Denny saw another effort saved.
A change at half-time by the hosts added firepower to their attack and they showed more commitment going forward, but Town weathered the storm and again created the better chances.
But they found the keeper equal to their efforts saving well with his legs from Harris and Denny.
With Robbie Powell virtually a spectator in the first half, he had no chance when Keynsham reduced the arrears with their first shot on target.
It came from hesitancy in Town’s play that allowed the home player to make no mistake with a fiercely struck drive.
With 18 minutes remaining there was clearly plenty of time for the hosts to press for the equaliser, but one minute later they were again staring at a two-goal deficit.
The goal owed much to the tenacity of High who chased down what seemed a hopeless cause.
As the goalkeeper was pressed into a hurried clearance from near the touchline, the ball fell nicely for Denny to control, take one look and return the ball from fully 35-yards, avoiding the covering defenders, into the corner of the net.
Thereafter, Town were able to comfortably play out time and seal and a richly deserved victory.
Exmouth were able to give starts to new signings Alfie Mahon, Dan Curren and the returning Mike Humphries.
Danny Pym and 17-year-old Ollie Bray also had their first taste of competitive first team football making their debuts as second half substitutes for injured duo Danny Clay and Alphie Mahon.
Exmouth Town FC team: Powell, Gillard, Gardner, Rowe, Cullen, High, Lever, Humphries, Mahon, Denny, Harris. Subs used: Pym, Merritt, Bray.
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