LIVERTON United put in their best performance of the season so far in their McDonald’s League Cup defeat against Exwick Villa last night.

That’s according to Livvy boss John Fleet, who was full of praise for his players’ attitude after the hard-fought 2-1 loss at the Sports Hub.

The hosts took a 13th-minute lead through Nathan May, who slotted under visiting keeper Niall Herbert from a ball in behind.

John Devine and Shane Corderoy both went close at the other end before Ryan Griffith restored parity just before the half-hour mark.

Neil Last played a perfectly-weighted through-ball to Griffith, who saw his initial effort saved before calmly lobbing the rebound over Exwick stopper Zach Lee.

The home side upped the ante and made sure they went in at half-time in front when May got on the end of Morgan Cullen’s low cross for a simple finish.

May nearly completed his hat-trick 10 minutes after the break when he forced Herbert into a good save, but Livvy soon got on top and dominated the possession for long periods.

Last’s acrobatic scissor-kick with 18 minutes to go drew a fine fingertip save from Lee as Fleet’s side probed for an equaliser.

But after substitute Matt Williams flashed a shot wide for the travelling side with seven minutes left, Exwick clung on to earn a clash at Bere Alston United in the next round.

Despite his side’s exit from the competition, Fleet was pleased with how his charges applied themselves away at one of the strongest sides in the league.

‘In the first half I think we were under the cosh a little bit,’ Fleet explained. ‘They were looking pacey and getting behind us, which is where their goals came from.

‘But I would definitely say today that they created their goals. We didn’t give them anything soft, it was just two good goals from them.

‘I was really happy that we got the goal back, and at 1-1 steadied the ship and it was a pretty even game, then.

‘They got the second goal which was a bit of a killer before half-time, but the lads were upbeat in the changing rooms.

‘Sometimes you can come somewhere like this and give them a little bit too much respect, which maybe we did a bit in the first half.

‘But in the second half I thought we dominated, really. They had a few breakaways which were dangerous but we probably could’ve nicked another goal at the end.

‘Disappointing in the end, but in the bigger picture I’m glad that we’ve come here and competed with a team who will be right up there come the end of the season.’

Having endured a stuttering start to the season in the Devon Football League North & East division, Fleet said that last night’s performance was probably Liverton’s best yet.

‘I’d say tonight was right up there,’ he revealed. ‘We got a win against Newtown but we didn’t play as well as we did tonight.

‘It’s probably the best we’ve played, considering the opposition and the fact they’re very good at home.

‘It’s just disappointing that we didn’t manage to nick that extra goal at the end and manage to force extra time because I thought we looked fit, too.

‘In times gone by, come the end of the games we’ve sometimes looked a little bit leggy. But tonight I thought we were the ones pushing on.’

Liverton turn their attention back to league action this weekend when they make another tough trip to the University of Exeter on Saturday (3pm).

‘I don’t think there’s anyone really to fear in this league,’ Fleet added. ‘I think there are some good teams but anyone can beat anyone on their day, which we proved tonight by coming here and competing with them.

‘A lot of it’s to do with attitude. When we played Newton Spurs in pre-season everyone knew that they had to be right mentally before the game.

‘Sometimes if it’s a game you think you’re supposed to win you’re not quite there mentally. I think we just have to get that right.

‘We have a couple of lads back at the weekend and the squad is looking strong. We’ve signed a couple of lads from Chudleigh – Matt Williams and Joe Long – so that should give us a few more options.’