Another damp Saturday but another 3 points....
By michael calf
Axminster went on to play their part in a flowing game that was a credit to both sides and a great advert for the league
Axminster arrived at Stoke on a damp and drizzly afternoon hoping to add to their 3-0 win in the corresponding fixture at Sector Lane.
Axminster went on to play their part in a flowing game that was a credit to both sides and a great advert for the league.
For those of us old enough to remember a certain England game against Poland in 1973 the first half performance of Ashley Smith in the visitors goal strongly resembled that of the Polish keeper referred to by Brian Clough as a clown. He proceeded to save everything Stoke threw at him and the odd one he missed was blocked and cleared by hard working defenders.
Shaun Bowden, Nathan Hebbes, Josh Webber and Adam Dyson all had chances well saved or blocked. In fact on another day Dyson could have claimed the match ball by half time.
The visitors only had the one real chance in the first half when one of the very few free kicks was given 25 yards out. The strike by Jon Horford brought a magnificent diving save from Dom Aplin.
The visitors held firm and at half time it remained goalless.
The second half started with Axminster in the ascendancy and in just two minutes they took the lead. The ball fell to Ashley Small who fired a low angled drive into the bottom corner of the net.
Stoke appeared in shock at this goal against the run of play and took a while to get themselves back into any decent football.
In the 22nd minute Joe Andrews decided to light up the game. The ball fell to him 25 yards out and he hit a cracking volley high into the net giving the keeper no chance.
Before Axminster could recover they found themselves two down. A lovely flowing passing move ended with a ball slotted through to Shaun Bowden who slipped it past the keeper with ease.
The second goal seemed to knock the visitors and they struggled to recover and get back into the game.
Stoke continued to dominate but no further clear cut chances were being created for either side.
With the clock ticking down Josh Webber went on a dribble into the box and was brought to the ground for the referee to point to the spot. Danny Gaze stepped up and blasted the ball into the bottom right corner out of the reach of the keeper.
The referee blew for time and a good three points for the hosts though they did make it harder for themselves than perhaps it should have been.
Stoke now go into a run of three away games against Bovey, Brixham and Elmore that will go a long way to deciding who tops the table