The reserves slipped to their first defeat in 9 games, going down 4-3 away at Lapford’s ‘pitch’.
A difficult place to play, Cullompton adapted relatively well in the first half playing down the mountain, and dominated the chances with 5 one on one opportunities and a handful of other good opportunities. However, Lapford were occasionally showing a threat with some accurate long diagonal passes, and did force Aaron into an excellent save from a header with the scores level.
Finally Cullompton went ahead when Billy Greene picked up the ball inside the area and finished in typical sharp style. It looked like a comfortable lead to take to half time, but another long diagonal ball caught the Cullompton defence flat and Lapford made the most of hesitancy to equalise.
With the clock ticking down to the half time whistle, a deep Dan Horler corner (‘what a terrible corner’ opined Howie on the bench) was met by a stunning Ryan Clarke header back across the goal, dropping into the far top corner – 2-1 at the break.
‘More of the same’ was the order of the day for the second half, but in truth Cullompton never really got going, giving Lapford more time on the ball and struggling to get the ball to feet in any dangerous positions. Lapford started to exert pressure from set pieces, but were rarely threatening.
The game turned on its head with two goals in a few minutes. The first was a controversial penalty, awarded for… After much contemplation it remains unclear what it was given for, but it’s fair to say that when the attacking team doesn’t appeal for it, takes a considerable time to realise they’ve got it and responds with laughter when given it, then it may not have been the correct call. To be fair, the referee was facing the play (something he didn’t do for much of the game), so it’s believed he may have enforced the little known rule of ‘taking a general dislike to Sam’.
The penalty was smashed home and with Cullompton still reeling Lapford took the lead moments later. However, with 30 minutes to go there was plenty of time for Cullompton to get back into the game.
As indeed they did, in unusual fashion. Tom Broome was busy cursing his inability to cross the ball, only to look up and see the ball drop into the top corner. Game on – the key was not to concede anymore bizarre goals…
A high ball was sent up on the edge of the Cullompton area, with a Lapford player meeting it with a run from deep. Watching the ball come down with his back to goal and little idea of where the goal or keeper were, he helped the ball on for what transpired to be a top class finish.
Still there remained plenty of time for Cullompton to come back, but by pushing more men forward they struggled to retain the platform to get good quality ball into the last third. Aside from one good effort from Billy which resulted in some pinball in the box, the majority of chances were at the other end as Lapford started to use the pace of their wide players against what had become a very stretched back line.
Over all the performance showed that some lessons had been learnt from the early season cup disappointments at difficult away pitches, particularly in the first half, but not all. While the result could be deemed unlucky in many ways, there is some truth in making your own luck and that’s what there reserves will be keen to do with a difficult away game at Newtown next week.
FINAL SCORE: Lapford 4 – 3 Cullompton Rangers