Marching to the Title: Paignton Saints hit Hookhills for six in last Saturday’s derby. A midweek win over Kingsteignton and Salcombe’s defeat at Liverton sees Saints crowned as Division Two champions – one of three division titles settled this week. (c) Sean-Paul Hooton.
There was plenty of late season action last weekend but it was the midweek games which finally decided three of the outstanding promotion and relegation issues. By the end of Thursday, Roselands had clinched the Division One title, Paignton Saints and Ashburton Reserves had done likewise in Divisions Two and Four while despite a brave battle at the bottom of the Premier, Ipplepen Athletic had been relegated.
There were three Premier games played on Saturday. East Allington side had lost 2-0 to two Josh Webber goals at Dartmouth AFC the previous Thursday and were troubled with injuries but Si Hannaford’s goal proved enough to beat Kingskerswell and Chelston and move the Pirates up to third above Ashburton. The Ashes lost 1-0 at home to Waldon Athletic but the score could easily have been six each. Ashley Harris scored the only goal midway through the second half after Dan Harrity had cleverly carried the ball half way up the pitch to create the opportunity. Watcombe’s penultimate game ended in a 5-1 victory over visiting Ivybridge Town Reserves who hang up their boots. But it was Tuesday night that fans of both Ipplepen Athletic and Loddiswell Athletic were waiting for. An unlikely win for Pens at Waldon Athletic would save the visitors and send Loddiswell down and things seemed to be heading it that direction when Ipplepen deservedly took a two goal lead into the break. But back came the Clarets in the second half with Nick Rudge setting up three goals in three minutes! First, he put in Ashley Harris, who finished with aplomb. Next, Thomas Ogilvie followed up Rudge’s parried shot and then Rudge`s corner was headed home by Zak Gleeson. And Rudge wasn`t finised there! Liam McKendrick played a one-two with him before slotting home before Rudge himself capped his evening with a fifth. As for Ipplepen, credit is due for their efforts in their final three games which saw them lead 2-0 against three top six sides. They are advertising for a new first team manager as they look to bounce straight back to the Premier next season. Waldon were also in action the very next night as they brought forward their home game with confirmed champions Buckland Athletic Reserves. Unsurprisingly, Waldon chose to play 14 debutants and it was therefore no great shock to find themselves 5-0 down at the interval. But the young Waldon lads rallied well in the second half, Jack Wilkinson scoring the game’s best goal from fully 35 yards and Neo Coxon and an Alfie Payne penalty completing Waldon’s scoring. Buckland scored a further three times to complete an 8-3 scoreline with their goals delivered by James Colclough (2), Sam Dicken, George Fice, Lloyd Gardner, Cameron Kelly (2) and Ben Robinson.
Roselands were already assured of a Premier League place next season after their 6-0 win at Babbacombe Corinthians the previous Wednesday evening but they made sure of the title with two convincing wins against Totnes and Dartington Reserves in three days while title rivals Buckland Athletic Thirds dropped four crucial points. The Red Army finished off their away campaign with a 5-1 win at the Foxhole Ground on Saturday to knock Paignton Villa out of the running (despite Villa romping to a 9-1 victory over Buckland Athletic Thirds – a result that secured their own promotion). Striker Colin Brown grabbed another two for Roselands – his fifth goal in two matches, captain Tom Dunlop also scored a brace and Marc Hagland hit home a 25 yard screamer; Totnes snatched a consolation in the last minute of the match. On the Monday, Roselands invited Tots to South Devon College and stormed to an 8-1 victory. A healthy crowd watched on as Marc Hagland and Colin Brown scored two apiece, Tom Dunlop made it 33 for his season with another set-piece header and Dexter Allsworth, Micheal Bradfield-Payne and Mitchell McMillan added singles. Man of the match for Roselands was Martin Luker at centre-back with Luke Dandy not too far behind having covered almost every blade of grass. Their goal difference advantage meant they were now uncatchable in real terms but they had to wait until Wednesday night to mathematically claim the title, Buckland Thirds held 2-2 at Newton Abbot ’66. Joe Clark-Farley’s brace had the Sixes on course for a 2-1 win but Buckland scored late on to grab a point. A nine-goal Wednesday night goal fest saw bottom side Kingskerswell and Chelston Reserves overcome Bovey Tracey Reserves 5-4. Points deductions meant that the result was immaterial and the hosts will drop down to Division Two anyway.
Paignton Saints recent form showed no sign of letting up as they took on Hookhills United at Paignton Community College. Luke Johnson latched on to Joe Jordan’s through ball to race away and round the keeper and slot home within the first five minutes; the lead was soon doubled, Hookhills ‘keeper Broom making a great save from Johnson only for the ball to fall nicely for Shaun Cotton to tap in. Johnson went on to add his second to give Saints a commanding 3-0 lead. Not only did Saints ‘keeper Jimmy Spriggs keep another clean sheet, he also bagged an assist for Saints’ fourth goal, his kick bouncing over the Hookhills back line for Nyron Connor to run through and head home. Another brace from Jamie Micklewright, his third in the last four home games, was the icing on the cake and sealed an impressive 6-0 win. Four points from their final two games would seal it for them regardless of Salcombe’s final result at Liverton on Wednesday night. Next up for the Saints were Kingsteignton Athletic Reserves who had bounced back from their Fred Hewings Cup loss with a 4-0 home win over Bishopsteignton United last Saturday. Johnson was on target again for Saints with Jamie Ford and Matt Reed also notching in a 3-1 victory which left them on the brink of the title. Some of the players made the trip to Halford the following night where Liverton United Reserves were hosting Salcombe. Town knew that they needed a win to have any chance of the title but the Lillies won the game 2-1 to seal Saints’ status as champions. In a great show of sportsmanship, the Salcombe manager and his players went over to the watching Saints players to offer their congratulations at the end of the game. Back to last Saturday and AFC Staverton did Dartmouth AFC Reserves a favour by failing to raise a side. Darts now need another four points in their final two to stay up. A Horn double and a Dockrey strike earned Stoke Gabriel Thirds a 3-3 draw at home to Teignmouth Reserves.
The only league title which has yet to be decided is in Division Three and Torbay Police’s status as favourites is looking a little less secure after the Bees only picked up three points from their last two games and were grateful to Stuart Pointon for those after his late brace rescued a result at Ipplepen Athletic Reserves last Saturday. Despite going two up through Max Prestwood and Luke Bowser, a scratch Police side conceded three and were eight minutes from defeat. Pointon then arrived at the back post to head in a Prestwood header from a Bobby Chancellor cross. The winner was very similar, Pointon heading in superbly in the dying minutes from a Chancellor cross. Worse was to come on Wednesday night though as the Bees travelled to Roselands Reserves. On a difficult pitch, mistakes played a big part in three of the four Police ‘keeper Chris Bashford conceded and, coupled with missing players and spurned chances in both halves, the visitors fell to a 4-2 loss, their goals coming from Darren Munday and a Prestwood penalty. However, Roselands also had chances to score more than the four put away by Adam Blackburn (2), Joshua Pagett and Liam Walton who hit a screamer (Pagett and Blackburn also netted in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Abbotskerswell). The net beneficiaries were Riviera United who still have a double-header to play against their title rivals. The relegation situation will go down to the last day of the season as Rui de Garces scored twice at The Hams to move Upton Athletic Reserves above Buckfastleigh Rangers Reserves at the foot of the table. Upton were the better side in the first half with de Graces separating the sided at the break. In the second half, the Fords continued to lack a goal threat until substitute David Hatch entered the fray. Within minutes, the Fords were back on terms with a goal from Jordan Baggott and it looked for a while as if the Fords were going to go on and win the game but instead it was the visitors who snatched the winner to keep their destiny in their own hands as they prepare to host Meadowbrook in their final game. On the same day, Buckfastleigh are at Roselands Reserves where they need a win to have any chance of staying up.
After beating Newton Rovers 6-0 last Saturday with braces from Ben Drinkwater and Dale Stocker and singles from Ben Sims and James Ash-Chad, Division Four leaders Ashburton Reserves knew that two wins in their next two games would be enough for the title. Ready to pounce on any slip-ups were Barton Athletic who had gone one better with a 7-0 home win over Paignton Villa Reserves having also beaten Torquay Town 5-0 the previous Thursday. The two teams would meet on Thursday evening but first Ashburton had a potentially tricky Sunday afternoon home tie against Torbay Police Reserves to navigate. By half-time, the game looked already won though as a double by Josh Moore and singles from Drinkwater and Callum Winter gave the Ashes a 4-0 half-time lead against a leaky Police outfit. The Bees changed formation, sending Lee Langley and John Bolus up front, and soon pulled two goals back in an end-to-end half to create a bit of interest. Drinkwater completed his hat-trick though to restore the four goal cushion before another two Police goals pulled it back to 6-2. An Ali Mascilo headed own goal saw the game finish 7-4. The visitors’ goals came from Bolus (2), Bobby Chancellor and Callum Brennan. A win in their crunch game at Barton Athletic would seal the title and Ashburton duly delivered, Josh Moore with a double and Danny Harry and Roly Blowers scoring en route to a 4-2 win which finally sparked the celebrations. Newton Abbot ’66 Reserves welcomed third placed Kingsbridge and Kellaton United to Osborne Park last Saturday. It was a tough opening 20 minutes with both teams trying to find their feet but after that ’66 went on to dominate, playing some nice football on the way to a 7-0 victory. Man of the match was Ryan Sweeney who scored five of the goals, Ryan Thompson and Billy Snell with the others. Dittisham United ended a largely forgettable season on a high note, the Plums winning 3-0 at Torquay Town – their first triumph since February. Town did pick up a point on Tuesday night though, drawing 1-1 at Bakers Park with Josh Parsons-Dearing finding the net for home side Newton Rovers.
It was a first win of the year for Division Five stragglers Malborough United who ended their season with a 2-0 home win over Newton Rovers Reserves. Champions Bishopsteignton United put Barton Athletic Reserves to the sword winning 15-2 at Michael’s Field (Moore with five, Pete Summerfield with four, Fay and Hall with two and Beeson and J Stuckey with one apiece) before cruising to an 8-1 victory over Paignton Saints Reserves on Wednesday night, Summerfield, Hall and Beeson with another two in that one, Stonelake and Langdell also on target with Jake Powell hitting Saints’ consolation. Bishops’ home game against Watts Blake Bearne AFC today will wrap up this season’s Division Five action.