Preece’s strike capitalised on a defensive mix-up around the half-hour mark and somehow wound up the sole goal on the afternoon despite an entertaining encounter at Coombe Valley.
‘I didn’t think there was much in it, in fairness,’ said Teignmouth boss Liam Jones. ‘I thought it was a tight game.
‘We’ve again given away another poor goal. We keep giving teams goals and we just can’t chase games contending at this level. They’ve [Crediton] come here to be solid, which I expected from a Furzy [Jack Furzer] side and they were solid, so we knew we wouldn’t get numerous chances.’
Teignmouth started the better side, but as would transpire to be the case throughout, they faced a composed Crediton rearguard that made final-third play excruciatingly difficult. On the first of few occasions that the Teigns broke through the defence, talismanic forward Ash Donohue cut into the box from the right and curled a left-footed effort inches over the crossbar.
Crediton pushed their noses in front on 28 minutes. A free-kick from halfway was sent into a busy penalty area and it tempted Teigns shot-stopper Zach Lee off his line in an effort to punch the ball from danger. A mix-up between Lee and his backline saw the ball ricochet into the path of Preece, who had the simple task of rolling it into a vacant net for his third goal of the campaign.
‘We’ve just got to get better at not giving those chances away because once you’re chasing the game it’s super difficult,’ Jones continued.
‘We’re not a million miles away, performance-wise. I think we’ve been decent and in fairness, that’s the first time we’ve not scored this season. In normal circumstances, we’d be super strong but we need to cut out the mistakes, cut out the poor goals and just be a bit more ruthless but it’s easier said than done.’
One final chance came before the break, and it was to be the closest the hosts would come to scoring as Brad Breslan saw an effort thwarted. A long throw into the box caused all sorts of issues for United and the ball was nodded on to Breslan, who, from close range, poked it goal-ward on the stretch. Crediton ‘keeper Ethan Chalk was wise to the opportunity and held onto the strike after closing the angle.
After the restart, Crediton substitute Leon Tootell was at the forefront of a series of golden opportunities to double the advantage. First, a one-on-one with Lee came on 65 minutes. Selflessly, Tootell squared for his arriving cavalry and the ball was valiantly blocked and cleared. Then, six minutes later, Tootell found himself in a similar position and this time set himself to try his luck. But his preparation telegraphed his intentions and a defender got across well to get a touch to the ball as Tootell shot. Lee still had to produce a diving save to keep the deficit to one.
Fifteen minutes from time, Teignmouth were reduced to 10 men as Sean Ayre was given his marching orders. Ayre was adjudged to have fouled Chalk when challenging a loose ball in the area and a second yellow card was brandished.
Ten became nine on 86 minutes as substitute Jay James saw red. A wrestle for possession with Kieran Knight turned unsavoury, with Teigns man James throwing a punch amid the afters.
‘I think the first one is super harsh,’ Jones said. ‘He’s on a booking, he’s jumped in with the ‘keeper, the ‘keeper has rolled his ankle and I think the ref’s got a bit confused about what has happened.
‘The second one is a red card all day long and that is just stupidity from our player and we need to be better at that - that just can’t happen. He’s let his teammates down and he’s let the side down.’
In the last action of the afternoon, Teignmouth saw loud appeals for a penalty ignored after the ball appeared to strike a hand. Crediton broke away and looked likeky to rub salt in the wounds with the final kick, but Tootell again fluffed his lines and put the shot over the bar.
Upon full-time, Jones explained: ‘We struggled with a level of cuteness. They were all over the ref, they were cute with the ref, cute with the free-kicks and then last 10 minutes we might as well have thrown the towel in because we get a stupid red card and at that point its effectively game over.
‘Again, you can’t do that - you have to stay in the game until the final whistle because you never know what’s going to happen. You might get a dubious penalty, you might get something else that might gift you a goal but as long as you’re out of the game you’re not going to be winning much.’