Bees give Exmouth scare before falling to defeat
EXMOUTH TOWN 4
BRIDPORT gave title-chasing Exmouth Town a brief scare before succumbing to a 4-1 defeat at St Mary’s Field in the Toolstation Western League Premier Division.
Coming into this game, relegated Bridport had lost 31 of 33 league contests whereas Exmouth were five points off leaders Tavistock in second place.
Exmouth had comprehensively beaten Bridport 4-0 on Boxing Day but there was to be no repeat of that scoreline as Bridport stunned the Devon side with a strong start.
Bees debutant Florin Gusoi forced Robbie Powell into a low save before the hosts took the lead.
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Riley Greenwood-Neate popped up on the left wing having been stationed out on the right but his splendid cross picked out teenager Harley Brook, whose header clattered against the crossbar.
First on to the loose ball was Gusoi, who tapped home for 1-0 to the delight of the majority of the 189-strong crowd.
Exmouth looked shellshocked for a time but quickly regrouped to equalise – with the help of a defensive error as Ace High headed home a cross on 29 minutes.
Bridport managed to hold Exmouth until the break, keeper Josh Lucas making several good saves.
However, Bridport lost the industrious Mika Mamanta to injury early in the second period and he proved a big absence as Exmouth pushed on.
Dan Baggs was also struggling with a hamstring injury in central defence and Town took full advantage.
Bridport kept the scores level until 65 minutes, when former Tiverton striker Levi Landricombe beat Lucas for 2-1.
Bridport still had a sniff of a point 12 minutes from time, until Landricombe bagged two goals in a minute to seal the points and a 14-minute hat-trick.
The win ensured Exmouth closed to three points the gap to Tavistock after the Lambs were held 0-0 by Buckland.
Post-match, caretaker boss Shaun Annetts said: “Four-one feels a little bit harsh but we take a lot of positives from it.
“Things have definitely improved in the last couple of weeks since the 7-0 loss against Street.”
He added: “It was a good first-half performance. We’d done quite well in other games this season, even before Edgar (Marcu, future boss) showed up.
“We felt we’ve had good first halves and let ourselves down a lot in the second half of games.
“We matched them for the first 45 minutes, we frustrated them, we showed quality and in possession we were better.
“We caused Exmouth a few problems and scored a really good goal to go 1-0 up.”
Bridport now visit leaders Tavistock on Monday (3pm), having lost 6-0 to the Lambs in the Les Phillips Cup earlier this season.
Annetts said: “We went down to Tavistock a few weeks ago and we lost 6-0, that was Edgar’s first time helping me – and yes, we were poor.
“I don’t think Tavistock played their strongest side. We’re obviously expecting a tough game, we know that Tavistock are pushing to win the league.
“They’ll want to put their strongest side out and score as many goals as possible, but I would say we’re better equipped than we were a few weeks ago.
“The new lads we’ve signed are making a difference, without a shadow of doubt, so we’re hoping to give a good account of ourselves.”
Baggs (hamstring) and Mamanta are doubts but George Calverley and Malachi Norman plus Ezra Osei-Kumi could return.
Bees: Lucas, G Calverley, Greenwood-Neate, Grace, Baggs, Bosnea, Mamanta (Habiil, A Steele), Norman, Gusoi, Brook, M Calverley (Boulton). Subs not used: Hawker, Batten-Coe.