Watcombe Wanderers 1,
Totnes & Dartington 3
Like most other clubs in the South Devon League and beyond, Totnes & Dartington have had games coming thick and fast as the 2017-18 season reaches its denouement. At least two games a week face most sides as they look to make up the multiple postponements resulting from the wettest winter many can remember.
For T&D it was two games away from Foxhole with a midweek visit to Watcome Wanderers’ Long Lane ground followed by a Saturday sojourn to Osborne Park, where their opponents were Newton 66.
The first encounter saw T&D pick up three points with a 3-1 win courtesy of
a first-half Mike Bishop double and a late third from youngster Finn Roberts.
In the absence of top scorer Dan Block, sidelined for the rest of the season with an ankle injury, the visitors, despite dominating both possession and territory, failed to consolidate the win until Roberts’ 75th-minute strike.
Keeper Dave Carroll enjoyed a quiet evening in the sunshine, with very little to bother him.
Bishop’s first-half strikes sandwiched Watcombe’s single reply, which despite their shortcomings kept the home side in the contest until deep into the second period.
Playing down the Long Lane slope in the second half, T&D created a succession of scoring opportunities, but too often lacked real composure and accuracy in the final effort. The late introduction of Liam Jones, making a late season debut for the away side, added a touch of pace and precision to the attacking third, with Roberts the beneficiary, producing a final flourish to put his side in the clear.
Newton 66 0,
Totnes & Dartington 5
A second visit in four days to take on Newton Abbot opposition resulted in a comfortable win for T&D, who comprehensively outplayed their hosts in every department.
With Liam Jones installed in the starting line-up in an otherwise unchanged 11, T&D continued the form evidenced in their midweek victory with a strong all-round team performance.
On a testing playing surface, the visitors put together a convincing pass-and-move display, which got stronger as the match went on. Built on a commanding and secure defensive back three, attacks flowed down both flanks, with Jed Roberts and Sam Jones on the right and Jamie Soper on the left providing attacking opportunities throughout the game.
For all their superiority, half-time was reached with no tangible reward, giving managers Rogers and Chester food for thought during the half-time break. Whatever was said, though, bore fruit almost immediately, with T&D taking a two-goal lead inside the first five minutes of the restart.
The first strike followed enterprising approach work by the ever-improving Jed Roberts and ever-willing Sam Jones, with the latter providing the final pass for brother Liam to fire past the 66 keeper.
With virtually the next attack, and before the host’s manager had reached the touchline, T&D doubled their lead. A well-worked short corner routine on the right saw a well-flighted ball hit to the back post, where Jo Souch was ideally positioned to head home.
A deserved two-goal advantage allowed Rogers and Chester to use three of a very strong bench to give some tired legs the opportunity to rest up, with just two more games to go. The introduction of Josh Bird in midfield added to an already dominant trio, winning tackles and showing good accuracy in his distribution.
A third followed, with Jamie Soper adding to his season’s tally. Bird and Ollie Smith provided the opening, with Soper darting between an overworked 66 back line to slide the ball wide of the last line of defence.
Another replacement to make his mark in the game was T&D youngster Josh Block. Having made the step up to senior football this season, Block has begun to demonstrate real promise, and his display here confirmed his right to challenge for a regular starting place in the not-too-distant future. It was his good work dropping deep to pick up the ball in midfield before moving forward that provided the opening for Souch to fire home his second, this time from distance.
With full-time approaching, it was left to veteran striker Barry Abraham to put the final gloss on an accomplished all-round team performance. Having lifted one half chance over the bar, Abraham made no mistake with a second opportunity to prod the ball home from close range.
There are two games remaining – a cup final day visit to Buckland Athletic and a Monday night encounter at Foxhole against a resurgent Newton Spurs, neither of which T&D have beaten in three attempts this season.
The second of these two games, with a 6.30pm kick-off, could go a long way to deciding how high T&D will finish in the divisional table. With a number of clubs also playing twice a week, there are still many points to be won and lost.