TAVISTOCK manager Stuart Henderson hailed a superb performance as the Lambs beat Exmouth Town 3-1 in the Southern League Division One Devon derby at Langsford Park.
The two sides were promoted as champions and runners-up of the Western League respectively last season, but in their two league encounters, Exmouth had the upper hand by drawing 2-2 at Tavistock and winning 1-0 at Southern Road in the penultimate game of the season.
In the game at Tavi, the Lambs found themselves 2-0 up before a spirited fightback from Exmouth and at one stage, it looked as though history was about to repeat itself in a competitive encounter.
Tavistock found themselves 2-0 up inside the opening ten minutes before Aaron Denny’s strike reduced the arrears shortly after half-time. But Henderson’s men weathered the storm and grabbed a third goal late on through Callum Watson to complete a superb win.
“I was pleased with the way we played,” Henderson said. “I wanted the lads to be brave in the right areas and we were, it’s always dangerous against Exmouth because they are a good side and it was similar to last year where we went 2-0 up early doors.
“I thought, for the 15 minutes before half-time, they were in the ascendancy and we tried to change the shape a little bit to nullify them and we carried on that shape in the second half, but I felt we sat too deep, they were coming onto us and got the goal back.
“We changed shape again and I felt we finished the stronger. We had a couple of half chances – don’t get me wrong, they are always dangerous on the break – but we got the third goal to seal it and we hit the post as well.
“Exmouth are a great side and have been on a similar journey to us, we went up in the Peninsula and the Western League with them and they are flying. I have a lot of time for Kev and Rollo (Kevin Hill and Andy Rawlings.) They are both good buys and they are a good club.”
The Lambs were quickly out of the blocks and a fine passing move led to the opening goal of the game inside three minutes, through Liam Prynn. The second came on ten minutes when a Tavi shot was saved, Josh Grant’s rebound was stopped on the line and Ed Harrison followed up to score.
Tavistock were then indebted to goalkeeper Josh Oak, who made two outstanding saves from Denny and Levi Landricombe, before Exmouth found a way back into the contest with a long range strike from Denny.
Chances came and went for both teams – Oak again denying Landricombe with the best of those for Exmouth – while Prynn struck the post for Tavi in stoppage time, but Watson was on hand to gather the rebound, compose himself and roll the ball into the net to seal the win.
Next up for Tavi is Saturday’s FA Trophy first round clash at home to Binfield, who were FA Vase finalists in 2021, losing 3-2 to Warrington Rylands. They ply their trade at the same level as Tavi, but in the Isthmian League South Central division.