BEFORE the kick-off of Lyme Regis Reserves’ away game against Devon and Exeter Division Three leaders Westexe Park Rangers, manager Matt Preece could see that his team was focused, ready to compete.
They were not fazed by the unbeaten opposition who had put seven past them on the opening day of the season (albeit a very different looking team to the one the Seasiders had been able to field in the last two weeks).
That focus was carried into the game as Lyme started strong, both teams having spells with the ball and creating threatening attacks. After the opening exchanges, the Reserves started to dominate, forcing the home side into long hopeful balls, winning it back and putting them under pressure again.
On 20 minutes Rangers had to make an early sub for a player with a tight hamstring, and only minutes later Louis Rinaldi was put through on goal and the defender chasing him collapsed mid-run.
The keeper saved Louis’ shot, and then concern turned to the injured Westexe player who had torn his hamstring and had to be carried off the pitch. He subsequently left the ground on crutches but with no subs, reducing Wessex to 10 men for the rest of the match.
Lyme continued to dominate the ball but Westexe kept punching back as upfront and they got a free -kick out on the wing, which was curled in superbly and flicked into the net to give the home team a 1-0 advantage at half-time.
The second half started exactly in that manner with Lyme having much of the ball, creating some good chances but never seeming to find the killer edge. Rangers’ keeper also pulled of some superb saves.
Then, with not long left on the clock, Louis Rinaldi, who was brilliant again in the number 9 shirt, picked up the ball on the edge of the box, twisted away from his marker and, seeing the keeper slightly off his line, slotted the ball over his head into the top corner to level the scores.
This gave the Lyme players another level of energy. Fred Thompson swung in a corner which found its way to the back post and Wallace Blackmore powered a header giving the Seasiders a 2-1 lead.
With time running out, Lyme got caught out after chasing a goal on the counter, the home side centre-forward finished well under pressure to make it 2-2.
But the Lyme players got straight on the attack, the ball finding its way to Fred Thompson, stood unmarked on the edge of the box who just cooly lifted the ball over the advancing keeper, restoring the Reserves’ lead with seconds on the clock and sending Lyme into third place in Division Three.
After the game, manager Preece spoke to LymeOnline Sport: “The players were delighted with their performance and winning it in the last seconds is not the best for my nerves, but an amazing feeling for the players.
“The game was fantastic to watch. The commitment and football shown by both teams was outstanding, and our players held their nerve so well to keep playing right until the end.
“Understandably in a performance like this every player was fantastic, but the three I would pick out are centre-backs Wallace Blackmore and Jake Sargent who were fantastic with the ball today and are developing brilliant in that regard.
“Alex Rowe in central midfield was an unstoppable force and my man-of-the-match. He won every tackle, was brilliant on the ball and captained the side superbly, calming his team mates and directing them all over the pitch.
“I’m immensely proud of all the lads and we are the only team so far to take points off Devon Yeoman and Westexe Park Rangers.”
Squad: Rob Harp; Robbie Fowler, Jake Sargent, Wallace Blackmore, Darius Pickering; Alex Rowe, Cam Fowler, Zak Harrison, Ben Bowditch; Louis Rinaldi, Matt Bradley. Subs: Jon Davies, Fred Thompson, Rob Larcombe.
This coming Saturday Lyme Reserves are away to St Martin’s who are sixth in the table.