BOVEY Tracey were held to a 1-1 draw against the 10 men of Okehampton Argyle at Simmons Park on Wednesday.

It was a night on which the two defences stood tall and limited joy in the final third. Bovey striker Josh Haynes netted his fourth goal in three games from the penalty spot and namesake Josh Coles, again from 12 yards, restored parity for the hosts.

‘I’m really happy,’ said Bovey boss Tony Radford. ‘First half I thought we were brilliant but the whole game was a bit similar to when we played them at our place – they beat us 1-0 and it was a penalty, weirdly, and neither ‘keeper had much to do. Tonight was similar; our ‘keeper’s had one save to make. 

‘Not many people come to Okehampton, with the front line they’ve got, and only give away one or two chances. We pushed after their red card and stuck everyone up front. I think if we had snuck a winner it would’ve been deserved.’

Bovey’s one-goal tally was their smallest for the last seven games but neither team made inroads into the other with shots particularly rare. Okehampton extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to an astonishing 17 matches.

‘It was just two good teams nullifying each other,’ Radford said. ‘We’re really close to each other in the league – I know they’ve got a couple games in hand – but we nullified each other. They’re a good side, finished high in the league last year and started off a bit sloppy this year but they’re on a good run again of winning games. 

‘It’s tough to play here; they get it wide quickly when they kick down the hill here and they’ve got good players – Morts [Luke Mortimore] is a talented boy.’

Controversy struck 25 minutes from time when Bovey’s Mitch Thomas got tangled up with Coles and both men kicked out. The referee only caught the Okehampton scorer’s antics and Coles was given his marching orders.

Okehampton Argyle 1-1 Bovey Tracey
Josh Coles is sent off. (Josh Goodman)

‘I’m a little disappointed we’ve not capitalised on it,’ admitted Radford. ‘It’s always difficult against 10 men and we often struggle but I did stick another one up front and go for it. Okehampton were resolute, tucked in and got men behind the ball. On the counter they’re always have a bit about them. 

‘I think Mitch may have done a bit first and he’s reacted but the ref has only seen the second one and we’ve gotten away with it a little bit.’

The draw sees the Moorlanders move to eight matches without defeat. Radford is eager for his side to finish with their tails up – even if that means calling on the club’s talented teenagers to fulfil fixtures while the first team combat injuries and absences.

‘We’re on a nice little run but the whole squad is going to have to be utilised,’ he said. ‘I like this at the moment; we feel quite comfortable in games and we’re not getting peppered with chances or shots. 

‘James Watts-Barciela did what he’s done all year – he created the penalty by getting chopped down after ripping the full-back up. Kai Swann made his first start for me; he plays for the under-18s and was really good in attacking midfield. Harvey Coggins was on the bench but I couldn’t quite get him on – it was a tough game to bring a centre-half on but I’ve apologised to him. One of my best mates in football, Mike Humphreys, came and helped me out tonight and he’s on the other end of the scale – he’s a bit of an older head. 

‘We are stretching resources to keep the run going but we need to turn these draws into wins.’