FOOTBALL: Four-goal Clarke fires Reserves to victory
STRIKER Curtis Clarke helped himself to all four goals as Stoke Gabriel & Torbay Police Reserves beat Buckland Athletic Reserves 4-0 last night.
Micky Marshall’s side could’ve been a goal behind after just three minutes, but Bees’ keeper Warren Sarjantson tipped an effort onto the bar from point-blank range.
George Phillips turned and sent another Buckland strike wide of the goal before Clarke got the first goal of a lucrative evening.
Visiting keeper Lewis MacNeill got his clearing kick wrong on 25 minutes and Clarke was on hand to punish the error.
Craig Hutcheson’s visitors continued to forge chances of their own – Dan Tucker heading past the post from a Dan Rankin cross.
But Clarke would give Stoke a 2-0 half-time lead when he delightfully controlled a ball over the top and fired low into the corner.
Eight minutes after the interval and the hat-trick was secured when the ball fell to Clarke in the box and he did the rest – before slotting home a fourth 10 minutes later.
Bucks substitute Sam Malcolm hooked an attempt over Sarjantson’s bar in the latter stages, but by that time the outcome had long since been decided.
After the game, Marshall expressed his delight at securing three points in the Devon Football League South & West at the first time of asking.
‘It’s brilliant isn’t it – really satisfying,’ he said. ‘I thought players one to 11 plus subs had to do a job to stop that young Buckland team.
‘They’ve done it, and for the last 15 minutes really we were down to 10 men with a lad on the pitch who couldn’t move but stayed on and battled.
‘I didn’t feel threatened, the defence stood to their jobs and they did it from minute one to minute 90.’
Clarke picked up a knock towards the end of the encounter, but Marshall said that wasn’t going to wipe the grin off his striker’s face.
‘It was a little disappointing at the end of the game that he was the one who picked up the injury,’ Marshall explained.
‘However, he’s in there smiling from ear to ear. He’s a confidence player, so as soon as that first goal went in I knew he’d be dangerous. Curtis is a very harsh critic on himself, but tonight he was the thorn in their side.’
As for Marshall’s opposite number Hutcheson, the Bucks boss was left rueing the chances his side didn’t take.
He explained: ‘I’m disappointed off the back of some promising moments on Friday. Tonight we didn’t have enough of those.
‘I’m more disappointed with the performance than the end result. Things we’ve worked on which were starting to come together didn’t quite work tonight, so it’s back to the drawing board.
‘We’ve had five chances, which on any other day if they’d been taken you wouldn’t have said they shouldn’t have been. If you take three of those then it’s a different game.
‘The keeper makes a mistake – he’s a young lad who’s trying to learn and you just have to take that on the chin. It happens to the best of them.
‘I’m not digging anyone out individually, but at the same time they [Stoke] have capitalised on all their chances and we haven’t.
‘We need to just regroup. Let’s keep out hard work ethic going because training has been good, and the lads are a good bunch. We just have to raise our standards and be better than we were tonight.’
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