Millbrook 4-0 Exmouth

Nov 29, 2021

WHAT do you do when you have no strikers available against one of the league’s in-form teams?

You stick one of your young midfielders up front, sit back and watch him score twice and assist another goal as your team defy the odds to record a superb victory.

With 17-goal Rikki Shepherd and Jake Foster out, Millbrook manager Mackenzie Brown handed the responsibility to Josh Toulson and he responded with his second successive man of the match contribution.

Skipper Tom Payne set them on their way with a ninth minute penalty and midfield maestro Jack Wood added a stunner from 20 yards.

The Brook have had a great November, having won three out of four with no goals conceded, but this rated as their most complete 90 minutes of a hugely entertaining first season at this level.

Brown said: “It was a fantastic result, one of the best results I’ve had in my time at Millbrook.

“I remember Exmouth beating us a couple of times in the year they got promoted from the SWPL and the result on Saturday shows how far we’ve come as a team.

“We knew that we had no Rikki or Knighty (Ryan) coming into this game, but then it was a blow to lose both Jake Foster and Ben Applegate to injury this week, leaving us with very little options up front.

“We had to adapt, so to then score four goals against an excellent team with no real recognised strikers is amazing.

“It’s also another clean sheet, which is five clean sheets on the spin in the league which is certainly a record for me, and I can’t imagine too many teams having done that in the history of the Western League.

“It’s something we are very proud of and hope for it to continue.”

On a pudding of a pitch and in a biting wind, Payne coolly slotted home his early spot kick following a trip on Toulson, but Millbrook were pushed back and it took brilliant close range saves from Chris Wearing to prevent Ben Steer and then Jordan Harris scoring.

Payne expected to score his and Millbrook’s second goal in the 39th minute in a one-on-one with Exmouth keeper Rob Powell but his right foot effort was well blocked.

Four minutes later, however, it was 2-0 when Toulson finished off from close range after Wood had intelligently laid the ball across the six yard box for him.

Even at 2-0 down it felt Exmouth were still in the game but Wood’s superb right foot drive four minutes into the second half put Millbrook in control.

Wearing was still called on to perform some heroics, with a magnificent save to deny Ace High on the hour, but Millbrook managed the game well and Toulson’s quality finish in the 79th minute was the icing on the cake.

Brown said: “It was such an even game, even though the scoreline doesn’t suggest that. We knew it wasn’t going to pretty with the conditions so we just had to make sure we worked hard and did the basics well and then hope to have quality when it mattered and that’s what we did.

“Chris made some fantastic saves, showing why I keep saying he’s the best in the business, and we just scored goals at perfect times.

“The second goal before half-time was excellent, the composure Jack showed to square it to Josh was superb and to go in 2-0 having played against that strong wind was a huge boost and we knew it would be very difficult for Exmouth in the second half with those conditions.”

Brown added: “The only negative for me on the day was when I realised we finished the game with a front two partnership that had a combined age of 36, which is a year younger than me!

“Will Larsonn is just 16, but has been excellent in training and has impressed everyone, so it was brilliant to get him some minutes.

“He can look at the likes of Rikki, Josh and Laurence (Murray) as examples of players in the club who we gave a chance in adults football to at a similar age, and have gone on to be excellent players for us.”

Exmouth’s miserable afternoon was complete when substitute Karl Riddell was shown a straight red card in stoppage time.