Shappie’s men are on the up

Joseph Bulmer

BARNSTAPLE Town Reserves have secured promotion to the Devon & Exeter League Division One. A 0-0 draw at Witheridge Reserves on Monday night was not the ideal result to help loosen the collars on a tense Division Two title run-in; but with two games to g

BARNSTAPLE Town Reserves have secured promotion to the Devon & Exeter League Division One.

A 0-0 draw at Witheridge Reserves on Monday night was not the ideal result to help loosen the collars on a tense Division Two title run-in; but with two games to go and three points clear at the top, Keith Shapland's side has achieved what it set out to do at the start of the season.

"I'm absolutely delighted," Shapland told the Gazette. "Promotion was the target at the start of the season and we've done that with two games left to play.

"We want to try and close the gap between the standard of players in the first team and the standard of players in the reserves and we've managed to do that.

"There's a good spirit in the side and our achievement is a credit to the players, who have played for each other and have responded to everything I've asked them to do."

While the destination of the title remains undecided, what is assured is that Tipton St John and Honiton Town will join Barum in the next tier next season, with Witheridge Reserves just missing out after a strong bid this season.

Second-placed Tipton have a game in hand and a superior goal difference that could see them grab glory by the smallest of margins. They play Exeter Civil Service tonight (Wednesday), North Tawton on Saturday and Uplowman Athletic on Monday. Barnstaple are away to Axminster Town on Saturday and by the time they play fellow title contenders Honiton Town on Tuesday night, Shapland's men will know exactly what they need to do to be crowned champions.

"Tipton have a better goal difference but at least we'll know what we need to do on Tuesday night," added Shapland, who is in his third year in charge at the club.

"But you never know, it might all be done and dusted by then; Tipton have three games in five days and that will take some doing.

"There's a lot of football to be played; I'd love to win the title but whatever happens, it's been a good season."

Kick-off at Mill Road on Tuesday is at 7.30pm.

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Last Wednesday night, Barum beat Upottery 6-2 at Mill Road. Sam Box scored three, Richard Elston grabbed a brace and Josh Pearce was also on the scoresheet against the second-from-bottom side.

On Saturday, Withy lost more ground in their bid for promotion with a 2-2 draw at home to Tipton.

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