Odd Down Blow for Bucks and a Change in Fortune for Stoke: Local Football Part 1/2
Bath side Odd Down established themselves as the team to beat in this season’s Western League as they sent Buckland Athletic to their first league defeat in 11 games and only their second home league loss. The opener, nine minutes in, had more than a touch of luck about it, Matt Guy’s drive taking a wicked deflection which took it over Tom Buckler for an early blow. Nevertheless, the visitors had edged the half and deserved their half-time lead. Buckland turned their performance around in the second half and pressed hard for an equaliser. But the Downers hit the hosts on the break on the hour mark, Ash McGrane with their second. More Buckland pressure eventually paid off as Jared Lewington halved the deficit with ten left on the clock; but despite huffing and puffing for the remaining minutes, the Yellows couldn’t find a second goal and left themselves with – if not a mountain – definitely a daunting hill to climb to have a chance of the title.
Buckland had the chance to climb the table on Thursday evening with another home tie, this time against Willand Rovers, two places above them. The signs were ominous when first James Blake worked his way into a good position before firing home and then Lloyd Gardner saw red following a touchline scuffle. But Buckland soon took control of the tie and only an heroic effort by Truro loanee Tom McHale kept out the equaliser. However, it looked like another three points dropped until Nick Milton, new in the side headed home an equaliser with two minutes remaining.
Buckland hope to get back to winning ways on Monday as they travel to fellow promotion-hopefuls Barnstaple. Bucks’ last win was a thumping 6-0 victory away at Gillingham on Tuesday 15th March, goals supplied by Liam Moseley (three), Jared Lewington (two) and Lloyd Gardner.
When you’re languishing in the bottom two and unable to pick up a point against your relegation rivals, two matches in 24 hours against top six opponents, even if they are at home, would seem unlikely to produce much to cheer about. So, in true football fashion, struggling Stoke Gabriel scored six goals and picked up four points to bring the smiles back to Broadley Park.
First up were Plymouth Parkway and Stoke ensured their visitors couldn’t settle on the ball in a scruffy but effective first half for the hosts. Stoke also had the better of the few chances, although Plymouth’s Mike Smith did graze the post with a header. One minute into the second half and the home side were in front, Joe Thompson’s header beating Martin Piper. The second half was little better than the first, from a neutral’s viewpoint, but somewhat against the run of play Callum Thompson, in modern full-back style, bombed up the wing to deliver a pinpoint cross that Ryan Richards headed home for a 67th minute equaliser. Stoke will have been disappointed not to have finished more of their chances, but the shooting practice proved more than valuable on the very next day. Stoke welcomed a depleted Godolphin Atlantic to the GW Churchward Ground and promptly tore them apart, hitting the bar and taking the lead within the first ten minutes, Ollie Aplin turning to fire in the opener from inside the box. On 16 minutes, the returning Dan Kingscote headed home a Rob Bowker free-kick and Stoke made it three-nil by half-time when Olly Critchlow headed home a Josh Webber free-kick. Godolphin were more of a force after the break but, by then, the damage had been done. Stoke wanted more though and, on 75 minutes, Joe Thompson met Critchlow’s corner to head in a fourth. On 83 minutes, Kingscote scored his second and the hosts’ fifth, finishing off a Ben Brown cross. Stoke’s Dom Aplin, also back from suspension, rounded off a superb afternoon by keeping a clean sheet.
Brixham AFC and Liverton United enjoyed the best of last week’s local Division One East outcomes. The Fishermen swept hosts Exwick Villa away, 3-0, while the Lillies grabbed the only goal of the game at home to Appledore courtesy of Aiden Macken who is expected to turn out for SDFL side Watcombe Wanderers this weekend as the teams continue to trade players.
Elsewhere, a Lloyd Copp strike for Tiverton Town Reserves extended the visitors’ lead to seven points away at Galmpton United as former table-toppers St Martins could only manage yet another draw, at home to Crediton. Newton Abbot Spurs shipped two at home to Sidmouth Town, Cameron Vere with a fine finish in the 40th minute to beat Neil Comerford and give the visitors a deserved first half lead; Jamie Orchard finished things off with a 76th minute lob. Dan Taylor gave Bovey a 24th minute lead at Budleigh Salterton, from the penalty spot to put the Moorlanders one up at the break. On the 52nd minute, Lewis Placket pulled off a good save but, since he is an outfield player, the result was a red card and a penalty which Jack Greenslade duly converted. On the 54th minute, Aaron Denny completed the turnaround, getting a second bite of the cherry after his first shot had been saved by an excellent Adam Seedhouse, and heading Budleigh in front. A second yellow for dissent then saw the visitors reduced to nine men before Mike White’s solo effort sealed the points for the Robins. Ed Blackett made things interesting as Bovey finished strongly but the hosts held out. Finally, second half goals from Liam Cleal and Oscar Latas saw Axminster take all three points from a trip to Totnes & Dartington.