Entertainment But No Goals at The Rec
Tuesday 17th September
NEWTON ABBOT SPURS 0 – 0 STOKE GABRIEL
Report by Tom Goble
The evening’s action was expected to be a one-sided affair: Newton Abbot Spurs had made a uncharacteristically slow start to the new campaign, shipping four in a loss against Totnes and Dartington in their last game, and, in Stoke Gabriel, were up against one of the division’s most promising attacking sides.
Stoke’s purposeful start to the game saw them exploiting the width of the large pitch at the Rec excellently, with well rehearsed attacking runs down the flanks forcing Spurs back into their own half and putting their defence under real pressure. In a frantic opening 15 minutes, home ‘keeper Tom Bukler was forced into a couple of decent saves and Stoke’s Jordan Hopkins and Dave Worthington had shots cleared off the line and had hit the post, after a number of promising attacks.
Spurs managed to get themselves right back in contention shortly after as they began to press Stoke’s defence and allow them much less time on the ball; this approach presented them with a golden opportunity on 17 minutes, an empty net opening up following a mix up in the Stoke defence – but Lewis Perring’s shot from range missed the target.
Next, a moment of controversy as Dave Worthington was lucky to escape punishment following a reckless heavy tackle on Spurs midfielder Shawn Bowden that ended the latter’s involvement in the game. Worthington had gone into the challenge with his boot raised and appeared to catch Bowden squarely in the chest, much to the displeasure of the Spurs player’s team-mates.
This unfortunate incident did not effect the fast-paced end-to-end nature of this game as Stoke’s Ryan O’Callaghan headed a corner against the crossbar just before half time.
Stoke Gabriel: “One of the division’s most promising attacking sides”
The second half started out much like the first, only Newton Abbot were notably improved. Their defence was doing a much better job negating the build-up play the had made Stoke so dangerous in the final third in the first half, and swiftly hitting the away side on the counter.
As a result, Spurs’ best chances of the game came midway through the second half. First, Matt Micklewright was denied by some excellent defending when clean through on goal, then Lewis Perring managed to round Stoke keeper Dom Aplin on the end line after the ‘keeper had committed himself to chasing down a loose ball. But Perring was denied by some desperate Stoke defending.
Despite this, the game still remained an end-to-end encounter with both ‘keepers called on a handful of times. The Spurs defence seemed to make countless interceptions and Stoke keeper Aplin did well to keep hold of a number of threatening crosses and corners in the rainy conditions.
Stoke came agonisingly close to taking all three points when substitute Ben Towler hit a dipping volley in the 89th minute which hit the crossbar.
Despite the goalless score-line, the match was very entertaining and both managers will be pleased with their sides’ efforts but were perhaps wondering “what if” at full time.