Western Counties Floodlit Youth League: Wellington U18s 3 Axminster Town U18s 5

Our U18s suffered a disappointing defeat at home to fellow strugglers Axminster on Thursday evening (February 16th).

Both sides have struggled this season in a tough, competitive league, and despite their lowly positions they provided an entertaining evening’s viewing for another good-sized crowd at the Playing Field.

Wellington started brightly and had the best of the early exchanges, but disaster struck when an under-hit back pass was seized on by the Axminster centre forward, who kept his head to shoot past keeper Sam Harcombe.

If the opener was gifted to Axminster, the second which came a few minutes later was a goal of top quality. Their central midfield player hit a pinpoint pass to the left winger, who took one touch before dispatching an inch-perfect strike into the roof of the net.

Wellington were rattled now, and it took a top class save from Harcombe to stop an excellent shot curling into the bottom corner. This let-off seemed to inspire the Tangerines and the midfield quartet of Lenny Old, Ned Ogilvie, Dylan Groves and Ryan Corbett started to get an upper hand in midfield, creating chances for the forwards, Sam Snook and Matt Brereton, who both had excellent shots blocked towards the end of the first half.

There were also excellent driving runs from Ogilvie and Groves, which saw half chances narrowly thwarted by the Axminster defenders and goalkeeper. One excellent move, involving three or four players, saw Snook shoot just over the bar. Despite their efforts, Axminster held on and led 2-0 at the break.

At the start of the second half, playing down the slope, Wellington made some tactical changes, and this paid dividends as they piled pressure on the Axminster defence. The back four of Ben Fowler, Robbie Walker, Matt Harper and Dylan Sellick were playing well as a unit and it was almost relentless attacks from Wellington.

The chances came and went with frustrating regularity, with shots going just over or wide of the post, and the Axminster defenders made a number of last-ditch blocks. Just as it seemed the ball would never go in the net, another Wellington corner was superbly finished by Ogilvie.

It was now game on, and Wellington pressed for an equaliser. However, just when it looked inevitable that the hosts would be next to score, against the run of play Axminster netted again.

The Wellington lads refused to let their heads drop and pulled a goal back when Brereton latched on to a good through ball to finish clinically. Again, it looked like momentum had shifted in Wellington’s favour but two quickfire goals, both extremely well-taken, from Axminister put the game beyond their reach.

Wellington rang the changes, bringing on subs James Clarke, Reggie Dursten and Jon Wasey and these moves were rewarded with a last-minute consolation when Brereton again outstripped the defence to score his second of the night.

Wellington will rue the missed chances and admire their opponents, who were far more clinical in front of goal. One other notable event on the evening, was the game’s officials – former Wellington players and father and son combination, Steve and Jack Luxon who, ably assisted by James Salt, gave a very competent display.

MOM: Dylan Groves
Match sponsor: Mike Stanyard
Food sponsor: Ellie from The Green Dragon

Wellington play at home again next Thursday evening when they entertain Wells, kick-off 7.30pm.