This week’s North Devon Gazette Football League round-up
BRAUNTON remain top of each of the top three divisions of the North Devon Gazette Football League after another busy weekend of fixtures.
Their first team, aiming to gain promotion to the South West Peninsula League next season, went three points clear at the top of the Premier division thanks to a simple 5-0 win at Georgeham and Croyde.
Georgeham are currently 15th and the difference in quality between the two sides was apparent from the get-go, with Braunton comfortable able to pick up a 17th win in 20 league matches.
Boca Seniors, currently second, did not play this weekend and now have two games in hand on the league leaders.
It was a good week for Bideford Reserves, too, who backed up an impressive 7-0 win over Shamwickshire Rovers on Wednesday with a 2-1 win at Ilfracombe Reserves in the Brayford Cup on Saturday.
Jake England netted a hat-trick on Wednesday, while Nathan Bate scored twice and Will Nicholls and Rik Williams both found the target.
Bideford are now back to within eight points of the top of the competition they so nearly won last season, though they have played more games than either of the sides above them.
They now await the winners of Braunton v Barnstaple AAC in the Brayford cup final.
Torrington continue to look a good bet for a top three finish, and added six points to their tally this week.
Torrington were given a scare on Wednesday, when they narrowly overcame Georgeham and Croyde by three goals to two.
Georgeham had gone in front through Alex Marks, before goals from Danny Jenkins, – who later saw red – Shane Hookway and Nathan Delaune.
Torrington then found their best form again on Saturday, dispatching of Dolton 4-0.
Corey Hind, Nathan Delaune, Tyler Evans-Laude and Malcolm Stewart scored to move Torrington within four points of Bideford.
“We’ve played four games in a week, which is a big ask,” said Torrington manager Steve Bartlett. “The boys are giving everything, so I’m pleased.”
Torridgeside will also be targeting a top three finish after once again closing the gap with a 4-1 win at Shebbear United.
They are now only four points worse off than neighbours Torrington, ahead of a clash with Ilfracombe Reserves on Saturday.
Fremington picked up their first win for three games with a solid 3-0 win at bottom club Chittlehampton.
The win keeps Fremington sixth, five points ahead of Barnstaple AAC, who played out an entertaining 3-3 draw at home to struggling Bradworthy.
North Molton and Appledore Reserves remain ninth and tenth respectively after playing out a 1-1 draw.
BRAUNTON Reserves are 19 points clear in the Senior division after another busy weekend which produced six points in two days.
Braunton were not at their best in either game, but still came away with a 6-0 win over bottom side Morwenstow Reserves on Saturday and a 3-0 win at 15th-placed Combe Martin.
Matt Hunt was twice on target on Saturday, with Matt Hunnibell, Jake Hawkins, Dan Crocombe and Ryan Hawkes also finding the net en route to a comfortable win.
On Sunday, Braunton struggled to play on a poor surface, and narrowly outplayed Combe Martin with goals from Matt Hunt, Tom Hunnibell and Ryan Hawkes.
Landkey emphatically staked their claim for a title tilt with an 8-2 win over Lynton and Lynmouth on Saturday.
Landkey won their third game on the spin to just about stay in touch with Braunton, having played five fewer games than the league leaders.
Lynton did, however, bounce back on Sunday with a well-earned 3-1 win over Northam Lions.
Park United, too, are close enough to cause Braunton some concern after a 6-1 win at North Molton Reserves.
Park are 20 points adrift, but have still only played 15 games – seven fewer than the current pace-setters.
Barnstaple FC also look to be in line for a strong finish, and stay fourth after their 4-1 win over Merton.
Barnstaple’s attentions now turn to the Combe Martin Cup semi-final tie at North Molton Reserves on Saturday.
Ashwater endured a bizarre weekend, relinquishing the points to South Molton on Saturday for not being able to raise a team before picking up three points from Shamwickshire Rovers Reserves on Sunday for the same reason.
Ashwater will hope to have a full squad available for a tricky cup tie with Braunton Reserves on Saturday.
Sixth-placed Woolsery and seventh-placed Putford could not be separated in the weekend’s only other Senior division match-up, as the two sides cemented their mid-table positions with a 2-2 draw.
BRAUNTON Thirds endured a difficult weekend in Intermediate One, suffering two defeats in as many days.
Their tricky weekend began with a 5-1 humbling at Pilton on Saturday, where John Blundell starred for the hosts with four goals. Chris Nichol was also on target for the home side, who stay seventh but have a number of games in hand on the majority of their nearest challengers.
Pilton travel to Torrington Reserves on Wednesday evening.
Braunton were then undone again on Sunday, when Ilfracombe Thirds’ pair of Woodcocks proved too hot to handle.
Colin Woodcock scored twice and John Woodcock also found the target as Combe moved to within three points of the top themselves.
Anchor Chiefs are also still in contention for the this year’s title, but missed a chance to pile on the pressure by only drawing 1-1 at Hartland.
Chiefs will have the chance to close the gap on the sides above them when they host Hartland in the reverse fixture on Saturday.
Woolacombe and Mortehoe Reserves, another of the sides in with a shout of claiming the Intermediate One title, were held 2-2 at home by Barnstaple FC Reserves. A win would have put Woolacombe fourth, having only played 11 games so far this season.
Woolacombe are also hoping to reach the cup final this year, heading to Equalizers for the semi-final on Saturday.
Barnstaple AAC Reserves showed how big the gap between the bottom two is this year, beating bottom of the league Sporting Barum 5-0 on Saturday.
Barnstaple AAC will face a tougher task this weekend, when they travel to Pilton.
HAXTON rangers retained their two-point lead in Intermediate Two with a dominant 7-3 win over Woolsery Reserves.
Haxton took their revenge against the same opponents who ended their long unbeaten run last week, re-establishing themselves as firm favourites to take the title in their debut season in the North Devon League.
Their attentions now shift to their cup semi-final tie at home to Anchor Chiefs Reserves on Saturday.
North Molton Thirds remain within two points of the top of the table after recording a convincing win of their own.
Goals from Oscar Brown, Oliver Chalk, Archie Griffiths and an own goal saw them claim a 4-1 win at Anchor Chiefs Reserves to keep them in the hunt for the league title ahead of their cup semi against Fremington Reserves this weekend.
Chivenor, too, remain in the hunt following a 6-1 demolition of Putford Reserves on Saturday.
They currently sit five points off the pace and three behind North Molton, though they do have two games in hand on the side in second.
Braunton Fourths also picked up a win at South Molton, courtesy of goals from Tyler Newnham and Terry Robertson, although they have now played four more games than Haxton and may struggle to bridge the gap in the coming weeks.
Fremington Reserves still have games in hand on the sides above them, and recorded an 11th win in 15 league games at Chittlehampton Reserves on Saturday.
Fremington host Chittle in the reverse fixture on Sunday, after their cup semi-final on Saturday.
Woolacombe and Mortehoe Reserves saw off Merton Reserves in a nine-goal thriller which ultimately finished 5-4 to the visitors.
Two from Alex Boyd and singles from Ben Aston, Jack Rafferty and Andrew Woodman proved enough after strikes from Ryan Down, Brendan Harris, Dan Paddon and Toby Skinner for Merton.
Woolacombe host Georgeham on Saturday.
South Molton Reserves picked up an important 4-2 win at Lynton and Lynmouth Reserves on Saturday.
Molton fought back to win from 2-0 down thanks to goals from Ross Curtis, Tom Roode (2) and Dave Isaac.
Georgeham Reserves and Appledore Academy played out a 0-0 draw.