Best-ever finish could Spur on side to title challenge
NEWTON Abbot Spurs manager Paul Dyson believes that the club's best-ever finish is within their grasp – and that next season could be even better.
Dyson's men beat Division One East new boys Plymstock United 4-0 at Dean Cross last Saturday to strengthen their grip on second spot, three points clear of Budleigh Salterton.
That grip looks unlikely to be loosened when winless Sidmouth Town (played 17, lost 14) visit The Rec on Saturday (3pm).
Last Saturday, Matt Barkwell scored twice while Matt Micklewright and Tom Sercombe were also on the scoresheet in the 4-0 rout of Plymstock.
Spurs also have a run-in of 10 games during which the toughest fixtures are against fifth-placed Appledore and sixth-placed Axminster Town.
In a 16-team division, Spurs also have to play Crediton (15th), Alphington (12th, twice) Exeter University (11th, twice), and Plymstock United (14th) again.
Stoke Gabriel, in fourth spot, have five games in hand, but must win at least three and draw one to overtake Spurs.
Dyson said second spot would be satisfying considering injuries to key man including Marc Revell and Tom Sercombe, and the 'bedding in' of new players including Matt Barkwell.
He said: "Without a doubt if someone had said at the start of the season that we would finish inside the top two I would have been delighted, particularly as it's been a topsy-turvy season in terms of comings and goings.
"But second place would seem to be within our grasp, we just need to keep plugging away and winning those games. We've got plenty of winnable fixtures and I wouldn't expect us to drop too many points until the end of the season."
Spurs were placed into the Premier Division during the league's formation, but were relegated in their first season and have not finished higher than mid-table since.
"Since we've been in this league [Division One East] we've not finished higher than mid-table so I think it would be our best finish," added Dyson.
"And it will be on merit as we're definitely a better side than we were when I took over two or three seasons ago.
"I would like to think that we could strengthen again in the summer and have a real crack at winning it next season."
HAVING secured their spot in the Devon Premier Cup semis last weekend, Stoke Gabriel are focused on their league campaign on Saturday when they host Crediton United at Broadley Lane (3pm).
The Railwaymen beat Teignmouth 5-1 in the DPC quarter-finals last Saturday, having gone a goal behind to Terry Breslan's second-minute strike.
Ollie Critchlow bagged a hat-trick either side of goals from Jack Thomas and player-manager Gary Fisher to send them through to the last four.
Teignmouth are without a game this weekend.
GALMPTON United travel to second-placed Budleigh Salterton on Saturday (3pm). having been on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline at home to Okehampton Argyle last weekend.
With star striker Dan Rankin turning out for the reserves, the Greens saw Alex Bayliss score twice against Argyle, but that was not enough as two goals from Luke Alden secured all three points for the visitors.
TOTNES and Dartington host Appledore at the Foxhole Sports Ground on Saturday (3pm) after going down 2-1 at home to Budleigh Salterton last weekend. Ben Bowhay's strike proved little more than a consolation for Tots, coming in the last minute.