The first Saturday of February was not a particularly profitable one for local football clubs in East Devon playing at step five and six, writes Stephen Birley.
Exmouth Town let a 2-1 lead slip to end up losing 3-2 on their visit to Cadbury Heath for their latest Toolstation Western League (step five) game.
The Southern Road men remain second in the table, but this defeat may well prove to be fatal in terms of their title aspirations.
Town were 2-1 to the good thanks to goals from Arron Denny, who netted in the very first minute, and Nathan Cooper, who scored in the 22nd minute, but were undone by a hat-trick from the home club’s recent signing from Cribbs, Ali Boyer, who netted his goals in the seventh, 52nd and 59th minutes).
One impressive stat for Town is the fact that over half the 72 crowd at Cadbury Heath were travelling Town supporters.
Town, who won 3-1 at home to Wellington last midweek to make progress in the Les Phillips Cup, are back in action on Saturday when the visitors to Southern Road are Shepton Mallet (3pm). In the South West Peninsula League (step six), Honiton Town let a two-goal slip on their way to a share of the spoils, Axminster Town needed a late goal to claim a point, Ottery St Mary shipped eight goals, but there was another win for rejuvenated Sidmouth Town.
Honiton led 2-0 thanks to a brace from Harry Leisk who netted his goals in the third and 28th minutes of their game at home to Torrington.
However, the visitors hit back and the final score of 2-2 means that the Hippos remain third bottom of the table. Next up for Honiton Town is a trip this Saturday (February 12) to 15th placed Elburton Villa where the Hippos will be looking to record back-to-back away wins (they were 2-1 victors at Dartmouth on January 29) for only the second time this season.
Axminster Town needed a second half goal from Oscar Lattas to ensure they banked a point from a 1-1 Tiger Way draw with Holsworthy. The Tigers are now without a win in eight with their last success being the November 17, midweek 1-0 win over Honiton Town.
Manager Dan Prettejohn’s side face a tough task this Saturday when they entertain table topping Okehampton Argyle (3pm). However, the Tigers will no doubt recall that, when they took on the ‘Oke’s’ on their own patch on the final Saturday of October, goals from Jamie Girton and leading scorer Charlie Wilson saw them to a 2-0 success.
Ottery St Mary were beaten 8-0 on their visit to Torridgeside and that means it’s now three straight defeats for the Hippos since former manager Bully Rouse walked away from Washbrook Meadows.
In those three games the battling Otters have shipped 30 goals and scored none.
On Saturday, Ottery travel to Tiverton-based Elmore (3pm). Sidmouth Town were the side to ‘buck the trend’ as they served up a 4-0 success against bottom side Stoke Gabriel and Torbay Police.
In the four games since former Ottery boss Billy Rouse and many of his former Ottery players made the switch to Manstone Lane, the Vikings have seen an upturn in fortunes to the degree that it is now four games unbeaten, 10 points banked, 16 goals scored and just one conceded.
From the Sidmouth Town side that shared four goals with Honiton Town back on Boxing Day – the last time former boss Danny Burwood was in charge – only Matt Salter, Will Jenkins and Matt Colson were in that ‘derby’ XI and also featured against Stoke Gabriel and Torbay Police.
Danny Pym (2), Matt Salter and sub, Luke Nickles were the goal scorers for Town who are now just eight points shy of third bottom Honiton Town, though the Hippos do have two games in hand. Sidmouth Town host Holsworthy on Saturday (February 12) and a week later they travel to Torridgeside before hosting Newton Abbot Spurs on the final Saturday of the month.
In the Scott Richards Solicitors Devon League (step seven), the big game locally was the derby between Exmouth Town Reserves and Budleigh Salterton played before a superb Southern Road crowd of 171.
Budleigh went home with the points and the bragging rights after a 6-0 win with Jack Hocking leading their scoring, netting a hat-trick. Hocking is the League’s top scorer with an impressive goal count of 27 from his 18 outings so far this season.
Hocking is eight goals clear of the ‘best of the rest’ – Alphington striker Sam Kemp with 19 – while Feniton’s Oscar Walsh comes next with 17.
Budleigh sit fifth in the table and this Saturday they host table-topping Exwick Villa in what will be the penultimate home league game of the campaign for the Greenway Lane men.
Exmouth Town Reserves remain second bottom and they play next on February 19, when they visit Alphington for their final away game of the league term. They wrap their campaign up the following Saturday (February 26) when they host Liverton United at Southern Road.
Feniton’s season has not gone as well as they might have hoped for and Saturday’s 6-2 home defeat to Braunton means it is two wins in the last 10 outings for the Acland Park men who have just two games left to complete their league campaign.
On Saturday (February 12), Fenny have no league game, indeed they are not next in league action until the final Saturday of the month when they complete their home programme with a game against North Molton Sports Club.
As things stand, Feniton wrap up their league season with a March 12 trip to University of Exeter.