Ottery St Mary Football Club remain unbeaten at the start of their Scott Richards Solicitors Devon League South and West campaign after a 1-1 draw with Okehampton Argyle.
Both teams went into the fixture sporting perfect 100 per cent records this fledgling season and, fittingly, after a thrilling close encounter, honours ended even.
The fact that the contest saw just two goals was very much down the excellence of the two goalkeepers who both made a number of ‘top drawer’ saves.
Played under the Washbrook Meadows floodlights on Wednesday night and watched by an excellent turnout, the game saw the home side make the brighter start.
And the first ‘chance’ of the game came when Pete Grover was presented with a gilt-edged opportunity, but he ‘scuffed’ his shot and the chance was gone.
The lively Danny Pym was then thwarted by the impressive Aaron Dearing, with the Okehampton glovesman turning a well-struck free-kick round the post.
Pym went close again when he was sent clear by Ryan Burrows and his excellent first-time effort beat the goalkeeper, but was kept out of the net by the frame of the goal.
The visitors grew into the contest and they were denied the opening goal when former Willand Rovers man Luke Mortimer struck a close-range volley that cannoned back off the upright.
There was similar action from the restart and the deadlock was eventually broken with Okehampton edging ahead thanks to a superb strike by Luke Reynolds.
That led the visitors into a period of pressure when they might well have doubled their lead, but Ottery goalkeeper Jacob O’Callaghan pulled off a terrific save to deny Bradley Ausden.
Ottery were soon back on the front foot themselves and Pym was again denied by Dearing who once more covered himself in glory with a stunning save from another ‘goal-bound’ Pym set piece.
The Otters did have the ball in the back of the visitors net, but Jordan Burrows was adjudged to have fouled Dearing in the build-up.
The home side continued to press and Charlie Cox thought he had equalised when he rose highest in a crowded area from another fine corner delivery – but his ‘goalbound’ effort was headed off the line by an Okehampton defender.
Play switched to the opposite end and Mortimore then had the chance to finish the game after a defensive mix-up, but he was denied by O’Callaghan.
With the clock ticking down the Otters were awarded a free-kick and dead ball specialist Pym once again delivered a superb ball into the area where Jordan Burrows reacted first to toe-poke the ball home and leave honours ending even.
Speaking after the game, Ottery boss Billy Rouse said: “I’m happy with a point, it’s a massive game so early on in the season.
“We didn’t produce our flowing football but credit to Oke as they worked tirelessly to disrupt us.
“That said, we showed great character to dig in and keep going to the final whistle.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s away game at a Beer Alston side yet to bank a point after back-to-back defeats, the Ottery boss says: “We dust ourselves off and go again Saturday as we make the long trip to Bere Alston.
“Liam Carey and Luka Nickles both miss out again as they are on holiday while Ashley Small, Connor Hannaford and Danny Pym look certain to miss out after picking up injuries in the Okehampton game.
“It does mean I shall be calling on some of the lads from the reserves and get the boots on myself, but I still fancy our chances of coming away with three points if we apply ourselves on Saturday in the way I know we can.”
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