LYME Regis 1st moved into fourth place in the Devon & Exeter Premier division this afternoon (Saturday) with a scrappy 2-1 win over struggling Topsham Town.
With close rivals Cronies – on the same number of points as Lyme at the start of the day – not in action, the Seasiders edged ahead of the Exeter team courtesy of two goals from sharp-shooter Sam Pollard-Jones.
The hard-fought victory was marred by a serious injury to influential midfielder Ben Turner who had to be taken to hospital in Exeter with a suspected broken cheekbone caused by what one spectator described as “a naughty elbow”. Turner is expected to be out for 8-10 weeks and will be sorely missed.
Lyme dominated the game throughout and their first goal came after 25 minutes. Mark Bailey drove the ball in from a short corner and Pollard-Jones steered it into the net.
The Seasiders extended their lead in the 65th minute from a counter attack which culminated in Pollard-Jones drilling the ball home.
Lyme were without first team keeper Will Meech who dropped out suffering from a virus. Robbie Fowler was drafted in at the last moment and did all that was asked of him, although he had a quiet afternoon. He could not be faulted for Topsham’s late goal.
Manager Gerard Hitchcock was impressed with his back line, marshalled well as always by the experienced Gary Knight.
Surprise result of the day in the Premier division was high-riding Colyton’s 0-0 draw with mid-tablers Witheridge 2nds which means the East Devon team have been replaced at the top of the table by Exwick Villa, who beat Okehampton Argyl 7-1.
Lyme are now only seven points adrift of the league leaders with a game in hand and they have the chance to maintain their Premiership challenge when they travel to close neighbours Colyton next Saturday (January 12) in a crucial clash.
Callum Larcombe and Jake Bearpark will be available but midfielder Robbie Fellingham will miss the big game due to personal commitments.
Lyme Regis Reserves maintained their Devon & Exeter Division Four promotion challenge with a workmanlike 4-0 win at home to Hemyock.
Lyme started strongly and opened their account in the 22nd minute after a period of intense pressure on the visitors’ goal, resulting in full-back Fred Thompson slotting the ball home from the right flank to make it 1-0.
The Seasiders went further ahead when Dan Boot, looking dangerous down the left, found himself on the opposite wing to curl the ball home to make it 2-0 at half-time.
Boot was in the thick of things straight after the kick-off of the second half when he fired the ball over the bar from a dangerous Thompson cross.
Centre-forward Shane Featherstone, looking sharper with every game he plays, was rewarded for his effort up from when he made it 3-0 with a spectacular low diving header from another Thompson cross.
Featherstone was on target again in the 67th minute with a fierce shot that gave the Hemyock keeper no chance and was unlucky not to have completed his hat-trick when he went close with a header from a pin-point Dominic Rowe free-kick.
Featherstone deservedly got the man-of-the-match award, but this was a good all-round performance from the Seasiders’ second string who brought on two promising youngsters as substitutes, 16-year-old Freddie Andrews and Ollie Alner (18), both of whom have impressed the Lyme management.
The Reserves have a real test next Saturday when they travel to Division Three leaders Alphington 3rds. The Exeter side have an eight-point lead over third-placed Lyme, but the Seasiders have a game in hand.
Lyme Rovers did not have a fixture this afternoon but return to action next Saturday in a rare home appearance at the Davey Fort where they will meet Perry Street Division Three opponents Farway United Reserves.
Uplyme picked up a useful point in a 2-2 draw at home to Ilminster Town Reserves in Perry Street Division One. Next Saturday the Swallows are away to league leaders Thorncombe.
In Perry Street Division Two Charmouth dropped two valuable points in their bid for promotion in a 2-2 draw at home to struggling Crewkerne Rangers Reserves. They will be attempting to get back on track next Saturday with a home fixture against bottom-of-the-table Kinsgbury Episcopi.