Budleigh lose final game

PUBLISHED: 12:27 26 April 2018

Budleigh away to Sidmouth on ground hop day. Ref exsp 14 18TI 0603. Picture: Terry Ife

Budleigh away to Sidmouth on ground hop day. Ref exsp 14 18TI 0603. Picture: Terry Ife

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What has been a superb South West Peninsula League Eastern Division campaign for Budleigh Salterton ended on a disappointing note as they went down 2-1 at Ilfracombe Town in their final league game of the campaign, writes Alan Beer.

The Robins, who went into the match looking for a fifth successive victory, were not helped by a dreadful surface up in North Devon that made for a seriously uneven bounce of the ball!

Budleigh began the game on the front foot and the first 15 minutes were, in the main, contested in the home half with only the occasional long-ball out of defence from the hosts to relieve the pressure.

Budleigh fashioned the first big chance of the game with Aaron Denny providing the opportunity that ended with a Mike White header sailing marginally wide of the left hand post.

In the 37th minute the home side fashioned a great chance when, after a superb left wing raid led by Simon Townsend, the ball was whipped across the face of goal, but no one was on hand for what would have been a simple tap-in!

The goal that for the first 45 minutes seemed unlikely to come, did arrive with almost the last action before the break, though there was an element of good fortune about it. Budleigh goalkeeper Alan Doble made a wonderful save to keep out a well-struck effort only for the ball to balloon up in the air to present itself to Joe Seldon to nod into an empty net!

After the break, play became scrappy as tired legs and a bumpy pitch did not make for a free-flowing contest!

The home side doubled their lead with a 65th minute goal that comes right out of the ‘bizarre goals’ album!

When a free-kick was awarded some 20 yards inside his own half, home player Seldon placed the ball and then put his foot through it and promptly saw it sail towards the Budleigh goal where glovesman Doble was clearly deceived by the flight of it and, as he tried to catch it, the ball slipped through him and into the net!

The closing stages saw Budleigh throw everything they had in a vain attempt to get something from the game. They huffed and they puffed – and they did get one back – albeit with virtually the last kick of the contest with James Sharkey and Denny linking prior to Mark Lever netting the final goal of the Budleigh league campaign.

As for where the Robins will end the season – well, that is certain to be a top five spot and might be as high as third – wherever Kevin Hill’s side finish it represents a superb first season under his stewardship.

The summer will no doubt be used to recharge the batteries and bring in a couple more players so the team can mount a serious challenge for honours in what is set to be the last ever season of the Eastern Division as it currently stands.

Given that Budleigh won the first ever SWPL Eastern Division title in 2000, to win the final one also would be a remarkable double.

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