Saturday and the visit of 2nd placed Lapford saw the biggest game of the season for the Reserves. With Lapford only 1 point behind and with a game in hand, a win was essential for Cullompton’s title push.
Cullompton seemed to start well, with a couple of attacks and a fair bit of pressure, but no chances of any note. Then on 10 minutes, some indecisive defending gave Lapford a corner which they took full advantage of by planting a header into the Cullompton net. Not the ideal start.
This sparked Cullompton into action and a spell of heavy pressure followed. A Dan Horler long throw was flicked on by Ryan Clarke and fell to James Bedford who turned sharply to smash home off the post from 6 yards for 1-1. Cullompton were playing some good stuff now and very much on top. A great move followed when a Lapford attack was well defended by Cullompton and the ball played out nicely from Luke Abrahams at the back, through to Billy Greene in midfield and into the feet of Jamie Cottrell up top. Jamie turned his man and split the Lapford defence with a through ball to the overlapping Dan Horler who finished brilliantly past the on-rushing keeper to make it 2-1.
Cullompton remained on top while again, not really creating any clear cut opportunities. One such chance would have been made when a clever ball was played by James Bedford to Jamie Cottrell who was blatantly obstructed by the centre back when he would have gone clean through. Disappointingly not seen by the ref though, who to be fair did have a very good game. Against the run of play, a long, high clearance from an un-pressured Lapford centre back was watched by a static Cullompton defence as it bounced through to the Lapford striker who finished very well past Aaron Marks.
2-2 at half time and Cullompton were looking the better side, but needed to sharpen up their concentration or were always in danger of conceding more. Lapford were showing their character and were always a threat.
The second half was a completely different story. Lapford came out the much sharper team and after a few good attacks they forced a corner. The ball was played in and an unmarked attacker had a good strike saved by Aaron. The loose ball was gleefully slotted home at the far post by the Lapford winger who reacted quickest. 3-2 Lapford.
Lapford continued their pressure straight from the kick off and about 10 minutes later they won a throw in which landed to the feet of the Lapford striker. This didn’t seem to be an issue at all with the Lapford man facing away from goal, but he was allowed to turn way too easily, without any pressure from a Cullompton player, and stroked the ball into the far top corner.
Lapford then almost made it 5, but some brilliant last ditch defending from Luke denied their striker what looked a simple finish after he rounded the keeper.
Cullompton then got back on top with some good play, but it was too late and the Lapford defence were coping well enough with any Cullompton attack. A few Cullompton half chances followed, but were not in danger of troubling the Lapford keeper.
Overall a really disappointing performance from Cullompton which saw Lapford take over at the top of the league by 2 points with a game in hand. Although there were some excellent spells of football played by the lads, especially in the first half, these good spells were outweighed by a lack of concentration all over the pitch at crucial points of the game. Lapford showed they are a very resilient team who took their chances well and fully deserved to come away with the 3 points. Still a long way to go in the league, so it’s important to get the heads up and get back to winning ways quickly and keep the pressure on Lapford and also ensure promotion.
FINAL SCORE: Cullompton Rangers 2 – 4 Lapford