Sidmouth Town 1, University 1

Sidmouth Town banked only a third point of a challenging season, but it could and probably should have been a post-match celebration with all three points in the bank.

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In recent weeks Town boss Paddy Thomas has been lamenting how tough it has been and yet he has also been suggesting that better things were not far away if his side maintained their level of commitment shown in recent matches.

The Vikings went into the game with free-scoring University on a superbly prepared Manstone Road pitch.

They were hamstrung in the build-up to the game with the loss of four regulars.

The first half was keenly contested with the students looking to attack at every opportunity, but getting little change out of a disciplined Vikings back line to such a degree that home keeper Jack Burgess was rarely troubled.

At the other end Mark Burdus, Tim Lister and Sam Banks all went close as Town began to take control of proceedings.

Juts before half-time the one gilt-edged chance of the first 45 minutes fell to the visiting side, but glovesman Burgess was quickly off his line to narrow the angel and the shot was well wide of the goal.

Within minutes of the restart a long clearance from Burgess found Sam Baker through on goal and he made no mistake calmly slotting the ball past the visiting keeper.

The lead was no more than the Vikings deserved. Playing with renewed confidence they went in search of a second and some crisp inter-play once again opened up the opposition and Baker rifled a sweetly-struck shot fro 25-yards that beat the glovesman only to graze the outside of the upright.

The students responded and Burgess was called into action when a long range effort saw him produce a splendid dive low to his left and gather the ball.

There were just minutes away from the Town faithful being able to salute a first success of the league season when the second of a couple of desperate challenges on the edge of the area was penalised with a free-kick and, from the second set-piece, the bal was floated into the Town net.

Town boss Thomas said: “ I would have happily accepted a point before the game, but given our performance, especially in the first half, I feel we deserved more. The players were fantastic and it was a joy to watch at times. The students are a good side and have been scoring a lot lately so to keep them quiet for much of the game was pleasing. We created more chances today than in our last couple of games and we certainly need to improve in this aspect of our play. We have a tough game on Saturday at Plymstock United before our Boxing Day home match with Axminster Town (11am). I hope the team draws the Boxing Day crowd their current level of effort and endeavour deserves.”

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