Brixham's bid for promotion gets boosted both on and off the field
IT WAS good news on and off the field for AFC Brixham last weekend, as their resounding 5-0 win against defending champions Kingskerswell & Chelston came hot on the heels of a significant announcement from the Carlsberg South West Peninsula League.
With the deadline for promotion applications passed on Friday, March 1, it was announced that of the two bids received, only Brixham would be eligible.
Buckland Reserves, who had also applied to make the step up, have been refused due to a Peninsula League rule which stipulates that the only reserve sides permitted entry would be those from the Football League, Conference or Southern League.
While recent FA advice has given leagues the discretion to accept reserve sides, the Peninsula League decided to stick firmly to the rules agreed by its own member clubs.
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Peninsula Football Secretary Philip Hiscox explained the rationale behind the decision:
"If Buckland finished above Brixham and we took Buckland, what would Brixham say about that rule?
"That's the problem with the FA coming out with 'maybe' rules that say leagues 'can' rather than leagues 'have to'.
"We've got a rule that covers it, so let's change that rule first."
Any proposed rule change would have to go before the League's AGM in Plymouth this June.
"If that rule changed," added Hiscox, "in future years Buckland Reserves may be accepted."
AFC Brixham secretary Bill Harris welcomed the ruling, but insisted that promotion talk was still a bit premature.
"We said we would give it two years to get into the Peninsula, so if we do it in the first 12 months it will be brilliant," Harris said.
"But we've still got another 13 games to play, and out of those we've got to play four from the top six."
Brixham took a huge step in the right direction last Saturday by destroying the Premier's last unbeaten record at Wall Park. Skipper Scott Dodgson, returning from injury, got straight back down to business, rocketing home a 30-yard screamer after just 10 minutes.
Dan Rankin, last season's Peninsula Division One East golden boot winner, weighed in with Brixham's second before half-time.
Rankin then wrapped up a hat-trick in the second half with two goals in five minutes, before George Meredith bagged a fifth, reacting quickest after Jay Morgan's shot had been saved.
Buckland found Watts, Blake and Bearne a tough proposition at Abbrook Park.
After Matt Beer's early spot-kick was saved by Jamie Bradley the Claymen dug in to end the half goalless.
Things stayed the same until the last 20 minutes when Matt Barkwell struck for WBB and Andy Eden added a well-taken second; but Bucks refused to crumble, pulling one back through Kain Bond and almost drawing level only for Bradley to conjure a second penalty save, this time from Mark Broome. Bond struck again though for a deserved equaliser.
In another twist, Bucks and Brixham meet at Homers Heath this weekend for a place in the Belli Cup final.
The other semi sees Loddiswell travel to Stoke Gabriel on the back of their third successive league win, two goals in three first half minutes by Mark Edmonds seeing off Abbotskerwell. In contrast, Stoke will have to shake off their 2-1 defeat at the hands of bottom side Staverton & Lanscove.
Upton Athletic, who take on Abbots on Saturday, moved up to third with a narrow 2-1 win at Coombe Valley, Teignmouth Reserves slipping back into the drop zone with their relegation rivals all winning. Ipplepen shocked Galmpton Reserves with a 5-0 victory at the Memorial Ground, while Newton Spurs Reserves enjoyed a 3-1 win against Kingsteignton, largely thanks to first team support from top scorer Adam Dyson, midfielder Jake Chisholm and defender Joe Andrews. Spurs go to WBB, while Galmpton take on Kingskerswell & Chelston.
Score of the day came from Armada Park, as Division Six leaders Polonia Torbay crushed bottom side Ipplepen Thirds by THIRTEEN goals to one.