Image (c) Julian Preston
Ashburton may have only achieved promotion last season but they definitely mean business. The Ashes stormed straight to the top of the Premier Division with a thumping 10-0 home win over Brixham AFC Reserves to set them up nicely for next weekend’s home test against the champions.
Buckland Athletic Reserves started their title defence with an away win at East Allington United while last year’s runners-up Dartmouth AFC also made a winning start.
Buckland Reserves opened the scoring at Poole Lane through Cameron Kelly and then went two up, after the break, thanks to Sam Peardon. East Allington, who have finished in the top five in the past two seasons, pulled one back through Ben Robey just after the hour mark to keep things interesting but Peardon’s second settled the tie in favour of the champs. Dartmouth AFC scored early on in their opener against Newton Abbot Spurs Reserves, Nick Rushe converting a Charlie Smith cross. But Spurs were quickly back to level terms through Andy Eden. Danny Rushe then edged Darts back in front in the second half and then scored a third to secure the points.
Watcombe Wanderers, now under the wing of former Torquay United chief executive Stephen Breed were held by newly promoted Ipplepen Athletic after a 3-3 draw at Moor Road; Javan Wright scored on his Greens debut with their other goals coming from Callum Styles and an own goal.
Upton Athletic enjoyed an emphatic start to the season, putting five past hosts Loddiswell Athletic with no reply. Kingsteignton Athletic also did well to beat visiting Ivybridge Town Reserves 4-1 at Broadpark.
Roselands’ first game in the second tier ended in a resounding 8-1 win although visiting Bovey Tracey Reserves were short on players; Jordan Blackmore scored a belter for the Moorlanders but it proved to be consolation only. Harbertonford also had a winning start in Division One with a narrow 3-2 victory over Babbacombe Corinthians, Bovey, White and Stacey with the goals for Ford, Carl Johnson with both for Corries. Watcombe Wanderers Reserves were unable to make it three out of three for the promoted clubs as they lost out 1-0 to Stoke Gabriel Reserves.
Despite losing top scorer Lee Morgan to East Allington, Beesands Rovers made a much better start than last season, scoring three without reply at home to Chudleigh Athletic, Jed Tucker with two and Danny Tucker with the remainder. That scoreline was matched by Paignton Villa at home to Totnes and Dartington Reserves.
Salcombe Town were the first SDFL team to pick up three points when their opponents Teignmouth Reserves pulled out of the fixture. AFC Staverton, who came up with Salcombe last season, started life in Division Two with a win, overcoming Kingsteignton Athletic Reserves 2-0 at the Staverton Playing Fields. Two divisions separated Liverton United Reserves and Stoke Gabriel Thirds at the beginning of last season but they fought out a 0-0 draw at Halford. Paignton Saints enjoyed the division’s biggest win, beating Newton United 5-2 away with five different players making the score-sheet: Billy Reay, Aaron Underhill, Josh Wiginton, Luke Johnson and Shaun Cotton; United’s goals came from Lee Hayman and an own goal. Hookhills United scored the only goal of the game away at Buckfastleigh Rangers.
Luke Harvey’s first game in charge of East Allington United Reserves ended in a 2-2 draw at Teign Village in one of only two Division Three games. The other ended with a 2-0 triumph for Riviera United away at Abbotskerswell.
In Division Four’s sole fixture, Broadhempston United went down 5-2 at home to Paignton Villa Reserves. Moretonhampstead became the latest team to drop out of the league, reducing the division to just 11 teams.
Watts, Blake & Bearne FC hammered Malborough United 8-1 in Division Five. Brixham AFC Thirds were unable to gain any points in their first game back in the SDFL, the Fishermen edged 3-2 by Ilsington Villa who were relegated last season.