This week’s North Devon Gazette Football League round-up
Braunton moved within a point of league leaders Boca Seniors with a comprehensive 10-1 victory at bottom club Chittlehampton.
Mark Gilfillan and Simon Townsend both helped themselves to hat-tricks, while Ross Maynard scored twice and Joe Seldon and Dave Mason scored singles.
A day later, Braunton were again in the mood as they beat Barnstaple AAC 5-0 in the Westward Ho! cup.
Sam Box netted twice and Townsend, Maynard and Dan Roberts all scored to round off a satisfying weekend for the club.
“We scored lots of goals and played lots of good football,” said Braunton manager Mark Harris. “We had a few off the line and hit the post against Chittle; it could have been about 20 if we’d taken our chances.
“We were hungry and when we have the bit between our teeth we play some great football.”
It’s now four wins in a row for unbeaten Braunton, who only face Appledore Reserves before taking on Boca on January 4 – a game which is likely to be crucial to this season’s title race.
Torridgeside won an excellent match away to Ilfracombe Town Reserves, which finished up 5-4 to the visitors.
Goals for Cassian Blackmore, Charlie Prentice, Peter Varley and Sam brown were not enough to prevent Combe falling to a second consecutive league defeat.
Bideford Reserves also chalked up another convincing win, dispatching of Shebbear United by seven goals to two.
The Albert Beer Memorial Shield winners were in good form again on Saturday, extending their winning run to six games and closing the gap to the top of the table in the process.
There were doubles for Joe Grimley and Jake England, and singles from Phil Kelly, James Bateman and Jake Shambrook.
Torrington stay fourth after continuing their own good run of recent form beating Fremington 4-1.
Fremington went a goal up in the first half through a smart finish from Mark Sanders, and Torrington didn’t get back on level terms until the hour mark, when Nathan Delaune headed the equaliser.
Torrington went in front through an own goal, before two in the last five minutes from George Bartlett settled the match.
There was still time for drama, however, as Danny Jenkins was sent off for Torrington in the dying moments to leave a slightly sour taste.
They will fancy their chances of improving their goal difference this weekend, when they travel to Chittlehampton.
Bradworthy recorded only their third win of the season so far, winning 3-2 at Shamwickshire Rovers.
The two sides are now separated by a single point, and the win also helped Bradworthy to open up a gap of five points to the bottom two.
North Molton Sports Club slipped to sixth after they were denied victory for a third straight game.
This time it was Appledore Reserves who managed to take a point from them in a good game, which finished 2-2.
Andrew Alexander and Liam Craze were on target for the home side, while Tom Barton and Kristian Hancock helped Appledore to a draw.
A Tom Nash penalty was not enough to see Barnstaple FC to victory against Woolsery.
The two sides, who came into the game in third and fifth respectively, could not be separated as both teams missed out on the chance close the gap at the top of the Senior division.
Merton moved level on points with Woolsery by getting the better of Northam Lions.
A brace from Craig McConnachie and strikes from Nicholas Ward and Brendan Harris saw Merton to a 4-0 win ahead of their meeting with fourth-placed Landkey Town this Saturday.
Morwenstow Reserves are still without a point, although they were at least competitive against Lynton & Lynmouth after conceding 39 goals in their last three games.
They were beaten 4-0, with Lynton’s goals coming from Nick Bowen and two from Reece Hale.
Putford notched a sixth win of the season, as they beat Torridgeside Reserves by a single goal to nil.
Equalizers usurped Braunton Thirds at the top of Intermediate One with a resounding 7-2 victory over Northam Lions.
Northam went a goal up against the run of play, but a quick brace from Phil Norman put Equalizers in front – where they duly stayed.
Jack Popham scored a hat-trick to further extend the lead, and that was added to by singles from Matt Hawkins and Adam White, who scored with his first touch since returning from a metatarsal injury.
It was also a good weekend for Pilton Academicals, who moved to within three points of the league leaders by putting five past Northside Atlantic.
Pilton still have three games in hand on Equalizers, with Braunton Thirds sitting second and not having a league game this week.
Braunton return to action on Saturday, with a trip to Barnstaple FC Reserves.
At the bottom of the table, Barnstaple AAC Reserves overcame Sporting Barum by three goals to two in a tight match.
They moved above Barum with the win into 13th.
In the only other league game of the weekend, bottom club Clovelly pushed High Bickington but ultimately lost 2-1.
Clovelly have struggled so far this season, but put up a good fight against High BIckington, who moved ninth with their three points.
Haxton Rangers highlighted their title credentials and closed the gap to North Molton Thirds to a single point by hammering bottom of the table Merton Reserves.
Haxton managed their biggest winning margin of the season, putting 14 past a Merton side who did, to their credit, manage three of their own.
The gap was reduced after their two closest rivals, North Molton and Chivenor, played out a 2-2 draw.
Brad Campbell and Oliver Chalk netted for North Molton, while goals from Joseph Duffin and Tommy Herd ensured a point for visitors Chivenor.
It will go down as a good week for Haxton, who now have three games in hand on North Molton and two on Chivenor.
There was nothing to split fifth and sixth, as Braunton Fourths hosted Appledore Reserves in a game which ended one apiece.
Peter Stapley was on target for the home side, while Stephen Flood grabbed Appledore’s goal.
Braunton have now only won one of their last four league games, and their job won’t get any easier this Saturday, when they travel to Haxton.
At the other end of the table, Georgeham & Croyde beat Woolsery 4-1 to cement their position in 12th, while Putford Reserves secured three points for just the third time this season with a well-earned 5-1 win at South Molton Reserves.
Lynton & Lynmouth Reserves pulled off the most surprising result of the weekend in Intermediate Two, beating 11th placed Hartland Reserves 5-2 to claim their second win of the season.