A Cullompton side missing half their outfield players battled hard but fell just short against a strong Perry Street team 4-2.
With a lively crowd and decent pitch, the game was in the balance until a late Perry Street goal on the break sealed the points near the end.
Despite the numerous changes, the game started in a very familiar fashion for Cullompton falling behind from a set piece within the first few minutes. A second goal followed on the half hour, again from a set piece when an unmarked player finished tidily after Aaron had saved from the initial unmarked header.
However, between the two goals Cullompton had threatened more from open player and had two penalty appeals (including one strong one) turned down. They were finding space out wide where there was the trickery of Kieran and eager running (if much less trickery) of Dave Hawes, playing wide left for the first time in 16 years. It was unsurprising Kieran who made the most impact, and finally won the penalty decision when he was taken down in the box. A confident penalty from Riggo and it was game on.
The plan in the second half was not to concede from a set play and to keep pressuring from open play, and this plan seemed to be working well as Cullompton slowly got on top. When the referee finally run out of patience with the Perry Street verbals Cullompton even had a man advantage for ten minutes, but by increasing urgency lost their focus and had one of their least effective spells.
Back at the other end, Cullompton players were disappointed when a strong call for a throw went the other way. Disappointment turned to amazement as Perry Street put the ball down and commenced to take a corner. The quick corner whipped in to the back post caught out the defence still preparing for a throw in and the third goal looked to have killed the game.
Cullompton battled back and found their way back into the game, committing players into the box with Tappy bravely getting to the ball first to make it 3-2. Pressure kept coming but the Perry Street keeper stood strong, dominating his box and showing little sign that he was actually a centre back filling in for their absent keeper.
When the fourth goal came at the death, it really was the end for a dogged Cullompton display.
Although positives can be taken from a spirited performance, it’ll be essential to get back to winning ways in next week’s home cup game against an always tricky Axmouth side as some key players return to the squad.