A SECOND defeat on the trot saw Lyme Regis 1st team’s position as Devon & Exeter Premier Division leaders hanging by a thread after an unusually inept performance, losing 4-3 at home to Upottery at the Davey Fort yesterday (Saturday).
Whilst they retain their top spot, courtesy of having played more games, the closing pack are getting ever closer and unless the Seasiders can rediscover their form after such a storming start to the season quickly, they will soon find themselves in mid-table and out of contention.
Elsewhere, this match was described as a ” thriller”. But it was only thrilling in the last five minutes of the game in which a sluggish Lyme showed s0me spirit to fight back from 4-1 down as Upottery dominated the second half, exposing the Seasiders’ lack-lustre performance.
Lyme had a number of chances in the first half to have halted the poor form which followed six games without a defeat but were kept in the game by keeper Brett Garner, playing his first ever game for the Seasiders’ 1st X1, who brought off two fantastic diving saves.
The in-form Fred Parsons was unlucky not to have given Lyme the lead after 21 minutes when his fierce shot was cleared off the line by a defender and a few minutes later he went close with another good effort.
Another good chance went begging when Bradley Rowe, leading Lyme’s attack in the absence of Joe Bond, outstripped the Uottery defence with a penetrating run down the left before firing into the side netting.
But the tide started to turn in the 41st minute when Upottery opened the scoring with a header from a free-kick awarded for what seemed an innocuous tackle from centre-back Kingsley Wellman.
The first half was devoid of any creativity from the Lyme midfield with the exception of Parsons who covered ever blade of grass in his efforts to get Lyme firing on all cylinders.
The breakthrough came in the 60th minute when Ben Vine went on one of his trademark runs down the right, cut in and fired the ball home to level the scoreline. It was classic Vine.
But within four minutes Upottery had regained the initiative as Lyme seemed to go into meltdown, conceding a a free-kick for a disputed handball decision, the cross being met with an unmarked attacker who forced the ball home.
There followed 20 minutes in which Upottery totally dominated, a free-kick bounced off the Lyme wall only for the ball to fired into the Lyme net with keeper Garner unsighted.
Lyme seemed hopelessly out of commitment until the final minutes of the game when Parsons was rewarded for another energetic performance when he headed in a Vine corner and, with the last kick of injury time, Rowe powered the ball over the line after the good work from Ben Turner.
The Lyme players trudged off the pitch with heads shaking in disbelief that they had not been able to contain Upottery. The fact is there are no poor sides in the Premier division, which is how it should be, and that they will have to lift their game and spirits to stay in the hunt for Premier honours.
Lyme missed the unavailable centre-forward Joe Bond. Rowe worked hard up front against an experienced centre half but had little support and only looked dangerous when he was moved out to the left. Nathan Womersley came on as substitute late in the game and his busy workrate made Lyme look more dangerous in the latter stages.
Lyme are clearly lacking the influence of experienced central defender Gary Knight who is suffering from a possible blood clot, his organisational skills being woefully missed. The majority of goals scored against Lyme so far this season have come from headers which puts their ability to defend set pieces under scrutiny.
The Seasiders stay on top of the Premier table with 15 points from seven games with Bampton and Feniton in hot pursuit on 12 points from five games and favourites Cronies in fourth place.
Squad: Brett Garner, Craig Every, Kingsley Wellman, Alex Rockett, Cody Bowditch; Fred Parsons, Mark Bailey, Robbie Fellingham, Ben Turner; Ben Vine, Bradley Rowe. Sunstutites: Wallace Blackmore, Nathan Womersley, Nicky Land,
Next Saturday (September 28) Lyme are at home to Sidmouth Reserves and will be looking to do the double over The Vikings (Kick-off 3 pm).
Lyme Reserves picked up a useful point in a 2-2 draw away to second placed Westexe Park Reserves in Devon and Exeter Division Three, their goals coming from Dan Rendell and Steve Batey (penalty). Full report to follow. Next Saturday the Reserves are on the road again, this time at second placed Exmouth Spartans.
Lyme Rovers were given a stern test against Combe St Nicholas Reserves, losing 1-0. Next Saturday they are away to Shepton Beauchamp Reserves in round one of the Tommy Tabberer Cup, a competition the Seasiders would love to win again as it is named after one of the players who was tragically killed in a road accident.