Promotion news could make or break Liverton United's cup spirit
LIVERTON United Football Club are hoping today will be one of the greatest in their history – with their hopes of promotion and cup success to be decided within the space of 24 hours.
The Carlsberg South West Peninsula League Division One East champions will today learn whether their promotion bid has been granted, just hours before facing Stoke Gabriel FC in the Devon Premier Cup final at Coach Road (7pm).
Liverton United chairman Gordon Middlemass said Teignbridge Council have given outline planning permission for floodlighting at their Halford ground, the final requirement for a Premier Division spot.
But full permission cannot be granted until six weeks from the date of the application, which was initially held up over the potential impact on greater horseshoe bats.
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The league had given the club an extended deadline of today to complete the formalities, but full planning permission will not be granted until June.
Middlemass said the council have provided a letter outlining their position, and it was now up to the league committee.
He said: "It's all in the hands of the Peninsula League – our planning application has been accepted, and a letter has been given to the league so they can make their decision.
"The planning application has not been sat upon yet but we've got a letter from the council saying that there's no reason for it not to be accepted.
"So we've passed it all on to the league and they've told us 'leave it with us, and we will let you know on Thursday'."
He added: "The league is in full knowledge of what's going on and Phil Hiscox sat down with us and said it's up to the board."
Liverton United joint-manager Tony Bowker fears that a 'no' decision from the league could have a devastating effect on team morale.
He said: "I think it would have a backward effect, because the players have put in a lot of hard work, so to not go up through red tape would be a bitter pill to take.
"We've done everything we can do, and hopefully it will all go through – but it's up to the committee."
Bowker said he and fellow joint-manager Alan Hext face some tough decisions in who will start against Stoke Gabriel tonight, with some outstanding performances in their final league game last weekend.
Liverton roared across the finish line with a 7-0 win over Sidmouth Town at Halford, their 26th win of the season.
Goals from Robbie Bowker (2), Darren Vicary (2), Tom Sercombe, Simon Lewcock and Glen Palmer made it 99 goals scored by Liverton this season – a ratio of more than three a match.
It was the introduction of second-half subs Glen Palmer, James Tuffey and Steve Mason which helped Liverton to score five after the break.
Bowker said: "It was a tremendous performance – it was some of the best stuff we've played all season.
"Whether it was because they were all playing for their place I don't know, but it will make it difficult for myself and Alan to pick our best team for the final."
Meanwhile, Stoke Gabriel manager Russell Musker is waiting on late fitness tests on several of his players before naming his squad for the final.
Dave Worthington and Richie Whatman were both back in training this week having recovered from ankle ligament damage, but Musker said the final could be too soon for a comeback.
Midfield talisman Karl Baker will definitely miss out having picked up a costly suspension, while Clay Bond is also a doubt, having suffered a thigh strain in his last game. Jason Heath comes back in contention having missed the last games of the league campaign due to work commitments.
Musker said he expected some hard challenges to be made by both sides who will be determined to win.
"There's definitely a rivalry there – all the players know each other and they're going to want to get one over on the other," he said.
"But I'm sure we will stay friends whatever the result."
That vow could well be tested over the weekend. Musker revealed that the two sides have by chance both been booked into the same hotel in Bournemouth for their end-of-season celebrations.
"It could make for an interesting trip," he added.
GALMPTON United joint-player-manager Steve Parkin said a final-day defeat at home to Exeter Civil Service won't take the shine off a 'tremendous' season for the greens.
Galmpton were already guaranteed third spot in the league – their highest-ever finish – before the 3-2 loss at home to Civil on Saturday. Striker Dan Rankin is also almost certain to become the first player in the club's history to win the golden boot award, after notching his 32nd league goal of the season.
But Parkin did admit their performance was among the worst of the season, perhaps because there was little to play for except prestige.
"They just wanted it more than us," said Parkin. "It was a general team thing – some of the players I've never seen play so poorly, including me."
Civil stormed into a 2-0 lead before Alex Bayliss pulled one back for the hosts. But it was the visitors who scored next to make it 3-1 before Dan Rankin slotted home his last goal of the league campaign.
Parkin said: "Overall we've had an immensely successful season, in the way we've played and in the way we've conducted ourselves.
"I'm chuffed to bits with the lads and proud of them all."
Parkin also said it would be difficult to continue the club's upward trajectory considering the budgetary constraints which they were under, but said their style of play could be a factor in helping bolster the squad.
He added: "We've got players who are interested in coming because of what we've done, so we will just wait and see what happens over the summer.
"Every year you want to improve and this year we've gone from fifth to third, so next year it would be great to go from third to first."
TEIGNMOUTH joint-player-manager Geoff Breslan said his side are aiming at a title challenge next season, despite seeing their incredible unbeaten run ended in their last league tie.
Breslan's side lost 4-1 at Alphington in their last game, ending a 13-match unbeaten run which had started in mid-January.
Breslan said the scoreline – which included two own-goals – was an unfair reflection of the contest, especially after Teigns had gone ahead through Steve Mardell.
"We were disappointed to lose, but from our point of view the scoreline flattered them really," he said. "It was a lot closer."
Breslan confirmed his desire to stay at Coombe Valley for next season alongside fellow joint-manager Andy Patton and dad Vinny Breslan.
The former Exeter City professional said the average age of his squad at Alphington was just 22, and believes his young side are capable of finishing much higher in the table next season.
"It's going to be one of those seasons that we're certainly going to be trying to win the league," he added.
"With some of the signings that we've made, including Nicky Moyse, Mark Forrester and Liam McAuley, it bodes well.
"With the group of players we've got it's certainly exciting to think about next season. Hopefully we can make a decent push for a trophy whether it's a cup or the league."
TOTNES and Dartington assistant manager Sav Savva said his side were capable of finishing higher than 10th place in Division One East, having slumped to a final day defeat at Crediton United last Saturday.
Tots lost 2-1 at Lords Meadow thanks to a late second-half goal. Liam Collins 25-yard volley had until then looked like earning them a share of the points.
The defeat sees Totnes finishing one place lower than last season, while Savva said he and manager John Payne had targeted a top-six finish.
"To be fair we were there with a weakened side and had only one substitute," he said.
"But they [Crediton] deserved the win on the day."
Savva added: "Myself and John Payne had targeted a top-six finish, and I think the team were capable of that if we could have had a steady squad through the season – but local football isn't always like that."