A SINGLE Kevin Squire goal has all but ensured Premier Division survival for Barnstaple Town. Barring an unlikely decision by league officials to open the relegation trapdoor to three sides this season, Owen Pickard and his side will regard Saturday s 1-0
A SINGLE Kevin Squire goal has all but ensured Premier Division survival for Barnstaple Town.Barring an unlikely decision by league officials to open the relegation trapdoor to three sides this season, Owen Pickard and his side will regard Saturday's 1-0 win at Corsham as "job done" at the end of what has been a long and desperate season.It also meant that Town could afford to relax going into last night's (Tuesday's) final game against champions Bitton.Barum were well and truly down on their luck with just one win from 13 when Pickard took over last November. But following a disastrous 2008, Town have lost just six of their 19 league games since the New Year, picking up a season-saving 29 points along the way.Manager Owen Pickard said all his players and staff deserved a pat on the back for the effort they'd put in during a very difficult last few months."At one time, we were as much as 11 points a-drift at the bottom and we've had to claw back a massive amount of points," he said. "The whole set-up at the club deserves a lot of credit for that."When I took over, avoiding relegation was the aim and it's literally gone down to the last Saturday of the season."The pressure on us has been immense and we've been battling against it every week for the last six-to-eight months."We'll have a well-deserved rest now and take a few weeks off before we start training for next season at the beginning of July."Pickard admitted that the task of avoiding the drop had been much more difficult than he'd anticipated."It's been much, much harder than I thought it would be and looking back, I'm not sure now whether I'd have taken the job on," he said."But it's been a good learning experience for me and will stand me in good stead for the future."I'm happy with the squad we've got now but there's a lot of work to be done before we start to plan ahead for next season."We could do with adding four or five players if we want to step up again but that depends on the club and how far it wants to go."Pickard also congratulated Ilfracombe for avoiding the drop this season with an impressive run of just one defeat in their last seven games. "I'm delighted for us and for Ilfracombe, who have put in a good run in the last few months."Meanwhile, with safety already assured, Ilfracombe Town ended their season with a flourish with two big wins in a week.A Karl Madge double - and singles by Ricky Marinaro and James Mayne - gave the Bluebirds a convincing 4-1 win at home to Street on Thursday night. They followed up their biggest win of the season with a 3-0 victory at Chard on Saturday.Madge scored his fourth goal in three games, while Marinaro added the second and Mark Gilfillan grabbed the third as 'Combe avoided the drop by 12 points with a 14th place finish.An Ellis Laight penalty ensured Bideford top six finish for the second consecutive season. The late equaliser gave the Robins a 1-1 draw at Welton Rovers.