Ilfracombe Town seal North Devon Premier championship and South West Peninsula League promotion

Ilfracombe Town will be playing Peninsula football next season.

Ilfracombe Town will be playing Peninsula football next season. - Credit: Archant

Results on Saturday meant the Bluebirds sealed the Premier title with three games left to play

Ilfracombe Town will return to regional football next season as they all but sealed promotion to the Carlsberg South West Peninsula League.

The Bluebirds will go up as North Devon Gazette Premier champions with a 7-0 win over Bideford CAFC on Saturday.

They were helped by other results going their way. Second-place Braunton were the only side able to catch Ilfracombe going into Saturday, but their 2-2 draw with North Molton took them out of the running.

Ilfracombe manager Clem Bennellick said he, along with everyone else at the club, was ‘absolutely buzzing’.

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“It was a great feeling,” he said.

“We knew going into the game if we got three points it would almost guarantee us promotion.

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“The incentive of potentially winning it was massive and we weren’t going to miss that chance.

“The lads have earned it. They have been quality this year.

“I also need to thank Callum Ovey and Kevin Weir, and everyone behind the scenes who have supported us from the off.”

Ilfracombe held up their end of the bargain with the win against Bideford.

Josh Phillips gave them the lead by blasting a long-range strike in from a cleared corner before Ryan Welch doubled with a splendid free-kick.

Phillips scored a free-kick of his own before two goals from Simon Townsend and singles from Chay Isaac and Joe Seldon secured the win.

Ilfracombe can now set their sights on the SWP League, and the prospect of playing in a regional league for the first time since their withdrawal from the Toolstation Western League in 2014.

“We’ve still got three games and nine points to go, but we can build this summer and hopefully emulate what Torridgeside have done,” said Bennellick.

“I am hoping if we can hit the ground running and keep a run going and hopefully look to move up again in the next few years.

“In some ways I think this is the hardest bit. It’s a tough one to get out of the league and next year we can experiment and enjoy it.”

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