Travelling to Exeter, the Team BTC Men’s Elite football team found a determined Exeter College side who sit a couple of places above us in the Premier table.
With a number of Team BTC players having represented Somerset in an extra Monday evening fixture we anticipated a few tired performances, and the home side looked lively for this contest. This seemed to pan out as our hosts looked to play on the front foot in a 3-5-2, overloading the middle third and having two strikers separated vertically. We conceded possession a touch too easily as composure and decision making on supporting the attacks was too slow.
Fortunately Sandford, Winter, Mason and Popaj assisted Creed in thwarting a number of Exeter opportunities, and Lane and Byrne looked to recover diligently.
Although the majority of attacking opportunities fell to the home team, O’Halloran, Butler and Down did manage a few chances, catching Exeter with good counters. However, the Exeter goalkeeper and defence put in some good work to reduce angles or see the strikes go wide.
With the lions’ share of opportunities it was possibly a fair reflection that Exeter took the lead, but it came from Mason in his first full game just misjudging a header that led to Exeter getting behind and scoring.
Team BTC looked a far better side in the second period and their play was more in keeping with how this season’s experiences have developed their game. Coppin came in central to put pressure on the home side’s centre halfs, plus the players’ decision making and possession was better used. Exeter brought on their extremely quick striker – but bar a couple of excursions into our box, Sandford and Mason dealt with him well.
Franco got more joy, linking with Byrne and Lane as Down was released to strike true but was matched by the goalkeeper’s safe hands.
With both sides vying for control, a number of changes by Exeter to wrestle back the initiative were made, but the Team BTC boys maintained the more productive moves. That’s not to say our hosts were far behind, but the more crisp attacks came from Team BTC. Dodds was now introduced to add a different dimension to the flank attack, with Down moved to full back to add extra pace on overloads.
With Winter and Down now pushing forward it looked like a Team BTC goal would come. Our hosts had other ideas with stubborn resistance and a goalkeeper stopping an almost certain O’Halloran effort!
But again the persistence of this Team BTC side stood out and as Exeter couldn’t stop our advances a free kick was awarded. With Butler back on, we loaded up the area and looked to capitalise with just a couple of minutes remaining. Butler struck a looping left-footed in-swinger that evaded the Exeter defence for O’Halloran to head home.. 1-1.
The final minute after the restart was met with both sides looking for the winner but each defence held firm to see an exciting finish to the game and it ending all square.
On reflection this was a game of two halves where Exeter had the first period to push home their advantages. For Team BTC the second period was more the standard they’ve been playing during the second half of this season’s campaign.
Lane, Winter, O’Halloran and Creed had solid games, but Sandford picked up Man of the Match for a typically reliable defensive game and initiating positive build-up play.
Team BTC 1 Exeter College 1