The Cullompton second team picked up an important away point against a Chagford side that has started to pick up decent results, with a tightly contested two all draw.
Numbers are often analysed in football, and a key one for Cullompton on Saturday was the 15 players unavailable. The 14 who did make the trip included two of the coaching team dusting their boots off, and a return from retirement for Paul Dugard following some excellent footgolf form.
The starting 11 was strong and put in a committed display, although the match lacked any real quality from start to finish. Chagford’s early season struggles at set pieces was apparent from the first long throw, and it was no surprise when a throw was flicked on by Ryan Clarke and headed in by Jamie Cottrell half an hour in.
Chagford had already hit the bar from a set piece and were far from being outplayed, despite the early loss of their captain who called it a day when realising the high quality of right back he was up against – Bedsy may well be worried about losing his favourite position.
The equaliser came from a debated penalty when the ball was smashed against Mark Webber’s arm from close distance – although harsh it was a decision that some referees would give, although clearly not all linesmen; Kinger’s thoughts on the matter were made clear to the referee at the time and into the half time break which quickly followed.
The second half displayed no obvious improvement in quality, but Chagford took the lead with an opportunistic and excellently taken lob from just inside Cullompton’s half for the only goal of the game from open play.
As Cullompton struggled to get good quality balls to feet anywhere near Chagford’s goal, the biggest threat continued to come from set pieces. Although now dominant, the clock seemed to be ticking down to Cullompton’s first defeat in six until the quality of an excellent Mark Webber free kick was matched by prolific Clarky’s strong finish.
With five minutes to go, Cullompton almost snatched the game when a Dave Hawes cross was headed just wide by Cotts (combined age – 72). The average age of the team excluding those two was 20, so the young side showed good character and plenty of the players should be able to learn from what was a tough afternoon.
A Chagford defender was sent off near the end for a second (overdue) booking for another cynical hack, and was lucky not to be joined by his teammate for a horrific challenge on Sam Tapp shortly after.
While one point is obviously not as good as three, the much more important thing on the day was to avoid defeat which was looking likely going into the last ten minutes. With teams continuing to take points off each other, it also preserved the four point lead at the top of the table.
FINAL SCORE: Chagford 2 – 2 Cullompton Rangers
Match Report by Dave Hawes