THERE have been many feisty encounters between neighbours Lyme Regis and Uplyme – but last night’s pre-season match for the Bass Bottle was up there among the most competitive.
Last season Uplyme, fielding the youngest team in the Perry Street League, struggled in Division One and it was a great credit to manager Stu Wooster for creating such a good team spirit and giving so many their first taste of men’s football.
That spirit has been inherited by a new management team of Steve Gillan and Pete Blandamer, who have taken over this season, and there’s a real air of rejuvenation at Venlake, much in evidence last night with a large vociferous crowd watching this local derby and demonstrated by the fact that this season they will be fielding two sides.
Lyme fielded their Rovers side, bolstered by a few regular Reserve team players, which will be playing in Division One of the Perry Street season, one above Uplyme – but there was very little between the two teams in this fiery encounter. In fact, on clear-cut chances, Uplyme came out well on top, especially in the first half.
Uplyme were by far the best team in the first half, using the blustery conditions and long ball well. They are fit, quick and committed and having won all their pre-season friendlies before this game, they will be challenging for honours in Division Two if they can sustain this form.
In the vernacular of well used football cliches, Uplyme were definitely “up for it”. There’s always more at stake for this particular fixture. It’s more than winning a silver bottle presented to the Lyme club more than 40 years ago by Bass Charrington; it’s more about early-season bragging rights.
Uplyme started at a terrific pace and immediately put the Lyme defence under pressure, sending the home crowd into raptures when the impressive Lorcan Hankin slotted the ball home after a corner with the game less than two minutes old.
The Swallows maintained that pressure for much of the half and Hankin was unlucky not to have made it 2-0 when his long-range shot bounced off the bar after 17 minutes.
Lyme weathered the storm and started to compete with Cam Fowler levelling the score on 27 minutes when he steered the ball wide of Uplyme keeper Joe Clear after a Toby Fowler free-kick.
Uplyme, however, did not let their heads drop and were back in front within a minute when Oscar Sladen made it 2-1 from close range and that’s how the score stayed until half-time.
Tackles were flying in from both side which prompted referee Lance Turner to book Hankin, who looked fired up, for kicking the ball away before a free-kick.
In the second half Uplyme lost their shape a bit and Lyme started to assert themselves. Wally Blackmore was brought on to stiffen up the back-four, and as the game wore on, with Harvey Brimicombe working hard in mid-field, they put the Uplyme defence under consistent pressure.
They lost Jonny Day who was red carded for retaliation, a decision which prompted a barrage of abuse from the home crowd.
The Rovers pressed hard for the equaliser and the Uplyme keeper Jo Clear pulled of two brilliant saves in the dying seconds before Lyme’s veteran goal-poacher Pete Peacock popped up to slot home the late equaliser, as he so often does, much to the obvious delight of the Seasiders’ supporters.
With two of his key players missing, Uplyme manager Steve Gillan was pleased with the performance, although he thought I was their worst game of pre-season in terms of quality football, but he picked out Hankin, George Symonds and Johnny Harris for special mention.
Rovers’ manager Rob Larcombe was delighted to retain the Bass Bottle and was pleased his side competed well in the second half. He picked out Brin Seward, youngster Josh Daines and Cam Fowler for special mention.
It was a pity there were scuffles between the players after the game, but tempers soon cooled and there were plenty of fist bumps as the two sides vacated the pitch.