GOALKEEPER Gary Grant was the hero for Pilton Academicals as his side sealed a Combe Martin Cup semi-final place in a spot-kick decider on Saturday. Pilton will admit that they stepped off the gas a bit going into their quarter-final tie against strugglin
GOALKEEPER Gary Grant was the hero for Pilton Academicals as his side sealed a Combe Martin Cup semi-final place in a spot-kick decider on Saturday.Pilton will admit that they stepped off the gas a bit going into their quarter-final tie against struggling South Molton.The Barnstaple boys might have looked odds on for an appearance against Torrington on March 1 - but the laid-back Senior Division outfit very nearly paid the price against the underdogs of Old Alswear Road, who raised their game to put on an outstanding performance. A 1-1 scoreline forced the game into extra-time, Tom Light equalising for Molton on 65 minutes after Tony Higgs had put Pilton one-up after 15 minutes. An extra 30 minutes failed to produce a winner, and in the shoot-out, it was Grant who tipped the balance in a tale of two keepers.Paul Smith's shoot-out save wasn't enough for Molton, as Pilton's stand-in between the sticks made two stops to take his side through.Shamwickshire Rovers were involved in a spot of spot-kick drama themselves on Wednesday night, knocking out Torridge Cup holders Morwenstowe in a shoot-out at the Vicarage Field, Torrington. Gareth Williams' shoot-out saves helped Shammy go through to play either Barnstaple Ammies or Braunton.Back in the league on Saturday, they travelled to North Molton to carve out a 1-0 win with a second-half Neil Armstrong header. "It was typical of Shammy of late," said club spokesperson Nick Braunton. "Loads of chances but not a lot to show for it."Also in the premier, leaders Boca Seniors held onto their five-point cushion with a 3-1 win at home to Bradworthy.They dominated the game from start to finish, possession that paid off after half an hour when Mike Cowell's lay-off was blasted home by Lewis Ovey for his first of the season. After the break Boca extended their lead after man-of-the-match Cowell arrived on cue to meet Matt Deakin's driven cross-shot in the six-yard box.Richard Shannon added a third after dribbling the ball around three players before Bradworthy hit back with a scrappy late goal.Third-placed Combe Martin kept the heat on the top two with a 4-1 victory over Grosvenor/Lovacott. They were made to work for it by the scratch-11 Barnstaple side who gave as good as they got, certainly inside the first hour.Graham Coomber opened the scoring for Combe on 15 minutes after the away side failed to clear their lines from a corner. Fifteen minutes later, they made it two, Pete Varley taking advantage from similarly sloppy defending from the set-piece.Despite going behind, Lovacott were unlucky not to fire back before half-time after creating a number of good chances through Richard Elston and Joe Gillard. They had to wait until seven minutes after the re-start to do so, Elston's in-swinging corner flying straight in at the near post.But a spirited come-back was all but snuffed out 10 minutes later when Simon Townsend hit a cracker low and hard from 18-yards. His second came shortly after, a simple tap-in after a shot that was well saved by the keeper.Barnstaple Ammies put seven past Morwenstow, with Scott Sharpe (4), Jack Jenkins (2) and Carl Smith on the scoresheet. But you have to feel sorry for Dolton, who slumped to a new low this season by shipping 13 at Georgeham.A nine-man and largely inexperienced side turned up at Newberry Road without a manager - or a kit! And after generous Georgeham found them a strip, they were not so kind on the pitch and went on to score 10 before the half-time break! Scorers for Georgeham were Andy Bwye (3), Sam Dodge (3), Ed Holmes (2), Carlo Ferrero and 16-year-old Ashley Yeo, who scored four after his recent step-up from the second team.Putford managed to hang onto a 2-0 half-time lead against Kilkhampton with Matt May and James Ashton goals.Matt Bolton and Shaun Copp were scorers for Appledore Reserves as they battled back after being two-down in their 2-2 draw away to Hartland.Despite dominating the game, they conceded goals to Matt Joslin and Richard Davey and left it very late to rescue a point.In Intermediate One, Shebbear United kept up the pressure on Combe Martin Reserves at the top of the table with a straightforward 5-1 win against Bude Town.They took the lead in the first minute, unmarked Pete Lovett heading from the corner at the far post. Matt Facey added another before 19-year-old James Vanstone scored a hat-trick and took his goal tally for the season to 18. Vanstone is now the club's top scorer this term, ahead of Greg Mitchell on 17 goals. "James has been with us for four years now and he always gets 20-plus goals a season," said club spokesperson Mike Edge."He's well on the way to getting another 20 this year and I think there is going to be a bit of a battle between him and Greg to be top scorer this season."Also in the top half of the table, Equalizers continued their good run of form of late with some good flowing football in a 3-1 win at home to Braunton Thirds.Good wing play from Tony Philpotts and Adrian Lynch resulted in the corner that produced the first goal. Lynch's set piece found the head of last week's hat-trick hero Andrew Parkhouse, whose unstoppable bullet found the roof of the net.Complacency set in as the home side went looking for a second. And when they failed to tidy things up at the back, a deflected shot gifted Braunton an equaliser that raised their game.Equalizers' Jamie Pow kept it level with a string of excellent saves before the front men restored a bit of breathing space. Darren Floyde latched onto a through ball to slot home before Parkhouse added his second, taking his tally to five goals in two games. Equalizers' Mark Dennis claimed the man-of-the-match award for a solid midfield display.Also in the division, North Molton Reserves thrashed Sporting Barum 6-0 in a mid-table clash at Rock Park. Kemal Tas hit four, while Luke Parish and Mike Yates both scored one-a-piece. Back in the side for Georgeham Reserves, Justin "Percy" Proctor scored one of three goals in a good win against Torrington Admirals. Ian Roberts introduced himself with a debut goal, while Mike Symonds added another with five minutes to play.