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Totton & Eling 1-2 Downton FC
Saturday 30th March Sydenhams Premier League
The Robins found themselves back in third place after a convincing away win over Totten & Eling, putting them back into third place.
The first half wasn’t particularly memorable, with the hosts taking the lead against the run of play – although the Robins should’ve had a penalty too.
At the start of the second half, the Robins came good, with Danny Western scoring the equaliser. After that, it was pretty much all Downton – Claudio Herbert going close with a terrific shot from outside the box, and Declan McGregor unlucky not to add to the tally.
After the hosts found themselves down to 10 men, and with Nic Turpin introduced to the action, it was Downton’s top scorer himself that latched onto a through-ball to toe-poke past the keeper and give the visitors all three points.
Downton FC 1-1 Christchurch
Thursday 21st March Sydenhams Premier League
Downton could only manage a draw against a noisy Christchurch team, in a replay of a game that the Robins originally won at a canter.
The replay came about due to Downton playing an ineligible player for all of 30 seconds in the first game, which they dominated and won 3-1. A controversial call by the Wessex League, considering the lack of impact of the substitution at the end of the original game, lead to the game having to take place again.
Downton were missing a number of players
Downton started much the stronger team, and Declan McGregor struck a venomous shot past a flailing Christchurch keeper, putting the hosts 1-0 up after 10 minutes.
Downton continued to dominate, with the visitors offering little more than a lot of noise, but simply weren’t able to take further advantage in the first half – leading just by the single goal to nil at half time.
The visitors continued to offer little in the second half until McGregor was penalised for retaliation, with the referee offering a straight red card. CThe Downton forward was aggrieved at a number of clear fouls not being called before he retaliated by kicking out.
Finally the visitors started to offer more, but it wasn’t until the last five minutes that they were able to bundle the ball over the line to equalise.
Downton 5-2 Cricklade Town
Tuesday 11th March, Wiltshire Cup Semi-Final
Downton progressed to the Wiltshire Cup final after a tough match against Cricklade Town went into extra time.
In a season that's brought many highs and lows, Downton found their way past a stubborn Cricklade Town who, ironically given Downton's enforced replays, were only in the competition after their quarter final victors, Bradford Town, were removed from the tournament due to playing an ineligible player.
Vinny Rusher got a hattrick to ensure that the Robins made their first FA final in several years.
Downton 2-0 AFC Portchester
Saturday 7th March, Sydenhams Premier League
Downton put their recent league woes behind them as they beat a determined Portchester side.
Jack Brook got the opener, heading past the visitors stranded keeper, and when top scorer Nic Turpin put the Robins 2-0 up, the game was effectively over. Solid defending and resolute play in midfield ensured that the Robins also kept a clean sheet for the first time in the league since the end Jan.
GE Hamble 2-1 Downton FC
Tuesday 4th March, Sydenhams Premier League
Another defeat for the Robins a their poor form continued saw them slip to 5th in the table.
The game started well, with the team clearly motivated after the poor showing in the previous weekend when they lost to midtable Hamworthy United. The game was tied 0-0 at half time, but the quality was a huge improvement.
When Jack Brooks put the visitors 1-0 up after 55 minutes, it did appear as if the Robins might be returning to winning ways. However, a slightly dubious penalty brought GE Hamble back into it and they were able to complete the turnaround after 75 minutes. Despite the loss, Downton were, at least, able to claim a moral victory in the way they approached the game.
Hamworthy United 2-1 Downton FC
Saturday 2 March, Sydenhams Premier League
The Robins found themselves floundering once again against midtable opposition as they slipped to their 3rd league defeat in 4 outings.
Ben Smith was unfortunate to put through his own net to give the hosts the lead in the first half, but little came back from an understrength Downton team.
It was Matt Holmes who pulled Downton level and, for a brief period of time, a full comeback looked on, but the Robins weren’t able to take advantage, with the home side in stead breaking away to score and ensure another away day without return for Downton.
Hayling United 1-3 Downton
Tuesday 26 February, Sydenhams Premier League
The Robins put their recent woes behind them with a convincing win away to Hayling.
With Declan McGregor and Brandon Mundy bother suspended, Downton once more started a game without their first XI. Reliably, though, top scorer Nic Turpin bagged his first of the game after a neat move through the middle.
The game opened up in the second half, with Turpin grabbing his second before Hayling pegged the Robins back. Jack Brooks put paid to any hope of a comeback, though, with a great strike, earning all three points for Downton and putting them back in second place in the league.
Alresford Town 4-2 Downton
Saturday 22 February, Sydenhams Premier League
League leaders Alresford took all three points in a fiercely contested game.
Without Vinny Rusher, long-term injured Danny Urry and Declan McGregor starting on the bench, it was a slightly unfamiliar line up for the Robins, who found themselves 2-1 down at half time thanks to a contentious penalty.
Things didn’t improve in the second half, with the hosts grabbing a further two goals before a consolation effort for the Robins at least reflected a slightly fairer scoreline, given the balance of play.
Corsham Town 0-2 Downton FC
Tuesday 19 February, Wiltshire Senior Cup
The Robins reached the semi-finals of the Wiltshire Senior Cup for the second time in three years with a solid and convicing win over Corsham Town.
Despite missing a host of players, including Nic Turpin and Declan McGregor, the Robins scored in each half – first Jack Brooks, and then Danny Western grabbing the goals that saw Downton into the next round.
They’ll now face Cricklade Town in the semi-finals
Downton 2-3 Bournemouth Poppies
Saturday 16 February, Sydenhams Premier League
Downton suffered a miserable defeat at the hands of Bournemouth Poppies in a game which they really should’ve taken all 3 points.
Despite having much of the pressure, Downton found themselves 2-0 down after just 20 minutes, with both goals coming from the visitors initial two chances.
While Downton managed to pull one back just after half-time, the Poppies quickly hit back, and lead 3-1 for the vast majority of the second half. A second goal for the Robins came too late to have any impact, and the points were lost.
Downton 3-1 Alton Town
Tuesday February 12, Sydenhams Premier League
The Robins bounced back from their recent set backs as they well and truly put the record straight in their replayed game against Alton Town.
The game had to be replayed following the late introduction of an unregistered player in the first match, which Downton had won 3-2. Despite the lack of impact of the sub in question – Matt Gurd, who actually scored an own-goal in the first match! – the league had decided on the letter of the law, so a cold and dismal night was the setting for the controversial replay.
Today’s team, though, is made of stern stuff. Captain Danny Finnigan showed his mettle throughout, refusing to shirk from his responsibilities and showing an all-new maturity that resulted in a sold performance from across the pitch.
While the Robins were initially pegged back with a goal against the run of play, the outcome rarely looked in doubt, with first Jack Brooks heading into an empty net and then man-of-the-match Craig Lewis taking advantage of a comical defensive error. Finally, leading scorer, Nic Turpin sealed the victory with a great finish when one-on-one with the keeper.
In a turbulent month, the Robins found themselves back at the summit, with title rivals surprisingly dropping points.
Fareham Town 3-2 Downton
Saturday February 9, Sydenhams Premier League
The Robins lost their second game in a row as they failed to beat a strong Fareham team despite good first half pressure.
Declan McGregor opened the scoring for Downton, before the hosts equalized from the penalty spot. However, Vinny Rusher scored again in the first 45 minutes to put the Robins ahead at half-time.
However, the hosts took full advantage of a disappointing second half performance from Downton, hitting back with two second half goals to claim all three points.
Blackfield & Langley 2-0 Downton
Tuesday February 5, Sydenhams Premier League
The Robins failed to impress on their midweek travels to title-chasing Blackfield & Langley.
Downton started brightly, but the hosts scored either side of half time, both times against the run of play. Shortly after, Declan McGregor had to leave the field due to injury, and the hosts took full control, with the Robins barely getting a look in.
Compounding the disappointment for the Robins was a sending off for Brandon Mundy.
Downton 1-1 Newport (IOW)
Saturday February 2, Sydenhams Premier League
The Robins grabbed a vital point against fellow high-fliers Newport, although were left ruing missed opportunities and a late and questionable decision from the officials.
It started brightly enough, with Nic Turpin netting after 15 minutes. Further chances fell to Downton, but, as has often been the case, they failed to convert and were left to pay the price.
At the end of the first half, several minutes into injury time, Charlie Aldridge was adjudged to have gone in too strongly on a tackle – the linesman making the key decision and, following a lengthy discussion, the referee gave a penalty, much to the surprise of both teams. The resulting spot kick lead to the equalizer.
This took the wind out of sails for most of the second half and the game ended all square.
New Milton Town 0-3 Downton
Saturday January 26, Sydenhams Premier League
The Robins returned to the summit of the league with a convincing win over New Milton Town, but yet again disciplinary issues continue to cause concerns for the team and the manager.
Declan McGregor scored twice early on, but the second goal lead to a fall out with one of the host's defenders, leading to McGregor being given a red card - Downton's third in as many games.
Despite this, Downton added a third before half time, courtesy of a trademark freekick from Vince Rusher, while Craig Lewis missed a penalty in the second half which would've seen the Robins pull further clear.
The win put Downton back at the top of the league following Christchurch's loss to Fareham Town on the same day.
Downton 1-3 Romsey Town
Tuesday January 8, Sydenhams Premier League
The Robins capitulated on a cold Tuesday night as the roles were reversed, with the top team in the league losing out to Romsey Town, who were at the very foot of the Wessex Premier League.
The game started badly, with the Robins falling behind, but Harvey Coker, on a fine run of form, got eh hosts back level.
A sending off for substitute Matt Holmes in the second half put Downton on the back foot and they were stunned by two breakaway goals by the visitors.
Despite a number of chances for the 10 men of Downton to get back in the game, the sending off and the second goal combined into a hammer blow and while it was disappointing to see the Robins lose to the team at the foot of the table, there were no complaints on the night.
Downton can take heart from having only lost three games in the league this season though, and will no doubt be looking to bounce back after the forced break from the poor weather.
Downton 3-1 Horndean
Saturday January 5, Sydenhams Premier League
The Robins continued their unbeaten run into 2013, kicking the New Year off in great style with a 3-1 win over a resolute opposition.
Long term injuries to Danny Urry and Jamie Waters saw a slightly unfamiliar starting line up, with the impressive Harvey Coker and Matt Palmer retaining their starting positions following the draw against local rivals Bemerton Heath Harlequins.
The hosts started brightly, and deservedly grabbed the opener with a penalty, Vinny Rusher his assured self in burying the spot kick. But despite their pressure, the Robins were unable to further increase their lead.
Rusher was replaced with Craig Lewis at half time, while the visitors began the second half in earnest, grabbing an unexpected equaliser.
As is often the case, though, this really got Downton playing with first Josh Thomas scrambling in a goal after a terrific Harvey Coker shot was deflected and then Declan McGregor, played through with a delightful header from Brandy Mundy, curled the ball deliciously into the far corner.
There was still plenty of time left, though, and when Ben Smith was sent off with 30 minutes still to play, the Robins dug deep to ensure that they came away as deserved winners.
With rivals Bemerton Heath slipping up to GE Hamble – who the Robins visit next week – Downton pulled 8 points clear at the top of the table of next nearest rivals, Christchurch.
Bemerton Heath 3-3 Downton FC
Thursday December 27, Sydenhams Premier League
The two top teams in the Wessex Premier shared the spoils as Downton maintained their lead at the top of the division.
The hosts got off to the strongest start, going 1-0 up after 15 minutes, but the Robins struck back with a goal before the break, a rasping shot from Harvey Coker settling into the corner of the net.
Downton then went 2-1 up, with a goal from top goalscorer Nic Turpin, before a highly controversial penalty for Bemerton pegged the visitors back – keeper Charlie Aldridge actually saved the spot-kick, but was unable to keep out the follow up.
The second half was dominated by a rampaging Downton who threatened to pull further clear. Danny Finnigan took advantage during this spell, spinning and scoring from close range.
Downton failed to take further advantage, and another penalty for the hosts, this time clear-cut, evened up the score.
The point kept Downton 6 points clear of Bemerton Heath, with both teams having played 20 games.
Downton FC 3-1 Christchurch
Tuesday December 18, Sydenhams Premier League
T’was the week before Christmas… and the Robins put in their finest performance in several weeks, fuelling the festive cheer and giving their largest crowd this year an early Yuletide gift as they extended the lead at the top of the table to six points.
Christchurch have been one of the teams of the season to date. Last season’s Wessex Cup winners came to Wick Lane having been in the top three all year, and with a reputation as one of the toughest teams to break down in the league.
Downton have been on a run of their own, though. They followed their disappointing exit from the FA Vase a few weeks ago with a tight win over Alton Town at the weekend, yet with players missing, including Matt Scott, Danny Urry and Jamie Waters, the Robins remained in fine form.
The game was a tight affair from the off. Paul Gulliver started at right back but was soon withdrawn from play following a crunching tackle, replaced by Harvey Coker who, despite being in an unfamiliar role, went on to have one of his finest performances in a Downton shirt.
Downton opened the scoring with what one of the fans in the crowd described as “Arsenal-good”. Declan McGregor picked up the ball in his own half, foraged forward at speed before switching the ball to Vince Rusher on the left wing. With McGregor racing into the box, Rusher swung in the sweestest of crosses for Dec to pounce on, scoring in off the post.
Christchurch pressed back and gained a controversial penalty – given by the linesman despite the referee initially signaling for a corner. Charlie Aldridge got a hand to the shot but couldn’t manage to repeat previous heroics, and Christchurch leveled the score.
If the first half was all blood and thunder, what followed upped the tempo even more.
First, Brandon Mundy was penalized for a foul on the edge of the box, and was summarily dismissed for preventing a goal scoring opportunity. Christchurch, though, failed to take advantage, while the decision galvanized the ten men of Downton.
Minutes later, the Robins got a free kick. Rusher took and Downton went into overdrive: defender Ben Smith spotted his opportunity, lifting off spectacularly with an overhead kick that had to be seen to be believed. The ball thundered against the crossbar and Danny Finnigan’s follow up, almost in slow motion, evaded the floundering keeper to find its way to the back of the net.
And despite the numerical disadvantage, the Robins weren’t done. Jack Brooks, getting stronger and more involved as the game progressed, played the most delightful of passes to Nic Turpin, who finished with aplomb past the onrushing keeper.
A stunning victory over a very strong team lifted the Robins six points clear of second place Bemerton Heath Harlequins. Downton visit the Harlequins on December 27th, but before that there’s no small matter of a home tie against Verwood Town on December 22nd. Two good results will see Downton at the top of the table come the end of 2012 – and all very much to play for in what, at this stage, looks to be a hugely exciting 2013.
Downton FC 3-2 Alton Town
Saturday December 15, Sydenhams Premier League
The Robins pulled clear at the top of the Sydenhams Premier League, taking advantage of postponements and surprise losses around them and keeping their nerve to beat a strong Alton team.
Downton were missing a number of players through injury. Danny Urry, deemed out until the New Year with a knee injury and Jamie Waters with a similar affliction were the two key absentees, while top-scorer Nic Turpin passed a late fitness test to claim his place in the starting line-up.
Scoring started early on, with Vinny Rusher taking advantage of a defensive error following a Nic Turpin header. Ben Smith headed the Robins further in front at the very start of the second half, before Turpin settled nerves after the visitors had pulled a goal back.
In truth, the Robins had numerous chances to go further ahead, but made life a little difficult when Alton managed to grab a second goal with minutes remaining.
In the end, though, Downton held out for the win, giving them three points breathing space at the top of the league. The Christmas period will prove pivotal - third place Christchurch, who lost 1-0 to Blackfield & Langley, visit the Robins on the 18th December, and 2nd place Bemerton Heath host Downton on the 27th. Verwood Town are sandwiched in between, visiting Wick Lane on 22nd December.
Bodmin Town 2-0 Downton FC
Saturday December 8, FA Vase 3rd Round
A well-organised Bodmin team put paid to Downton's ambitions of further glory in the FA Vase.
With two stunning goals either side of half time, and a penalty save by custodian Charlie Aldridge, the stats reflect the game well - and while Downton got off to a good start, with a chance ruled out for offside and some early pressure, they never looked like repeating their previous heroics in the Vase.
Always disappointing to lose, but the team did well to better any previous Downton side in reaching the third round and the season still looks full of promise as they sit proudly at the top of the league going into the Christmas fixtures.
Devizes 1-1 Downton FC*
Tuesday December 4, Wilts Senior Cup
The Robins squeezed into quarter final of the Wilts Senior Cup, beating a dogged Devizes side on penalties.
With a big FA Vase game coming up, a number of squad players made the team, performing well on the night. The hosts scored first before a Charlie Aldridge double-save kept the Robins in with a shout - and shout they did when Nic Turpin's stunning free kick found the net.
With no more score after extra time, the Robins once again were grateful to the heroics of Aldridge as they won the penalty shoot-out 3-1. Downton play Corsham Town in the quarter finals on 19th January 2013.
Fawley 0-5 Downton FC
Saturday December 1, Sydenhams Premier League
The Robins flew forward in pole-position in the Premier League with the return of a Donwton legend to the scoresheet, and a fine win over mid-table Fawley.
Despite missing Captain Josh Thomas and playmaker Danny Urry through injury, the Robins dominated from the off, opening the scoring through a magnificent effort by Danny Finnigan and could’ve extended their lead even further before half time, chances falling to Declan McGregor, Nic Turpin and Finnigan again.
The floodgates really opened in the second half, with first McGregor ending his own personal goal drought, notching home nonchalantly past the home keeper, and then Vinny Rusher dispatching a cool penalty when play was brought back, despite having scored after the original decision.
Declan McGregor then buried the ghost of his barren spell, hitting two more fine goals, giving him his first hattrick of the season.
The win puts the Robins 3 points clear at the top of the Premier League, with their nearest rivals, Christchurch and Bemerton Heath Harlequins, both due to play Downton before the month is out.
Downton FC 0-0 Moneyfields
Saturday 24th November, Sydenhams Premier League
The Robins crept back to the summit of the Sydenhams Premier League as they battled both the elements and the opposition in a hard fought game with few chances.
The game didn’t start in the best way, with first Danny Urry going off with a twisted knee, and then skipper Josh Thomas replaced when he cut his head following a clash when going for the ball.
Downton came closest to opening the scoring midway through the first half, when Danny Finnigan’s shot evaded the stranded keeper but rebounded off the post. The visitors had a number of opportunities too – with keeper Charlie Aldridge to thank for maintaining parity.
As the weather worsened, chances continued to be at a premium. In the end, a draw was a fair result, and gave Downton the point needed to go back to the top of the table.
Buckland 2-5 Downton FC
Saturday 17th November, FA Vase 2nd Round
The Robins enjoyed a sensational win on the road, beating Buckland Athletic to reach the 3rd round of the FA Vase for the very first time in their history.
There were early signs of a goal fest, with Buckland going closest first, hitting the woodwork just a few minutes in. Downton reacted in fine style, with midweek hero Jamie Waters, preferred to winger Danny Urry in the starting line up, offering an alternative outlet for strikers Declan McGregor and Nic Turpin.
And it was Turpin who opened the scoring, finshing from a fine cross, evading both teammates and opponents alike to strike the ball beyond the hosts keeper.
But Buckland were very much in the game, and came back relatively quickly, Downton keeper Charlie Aldridge unable to keep out the rebound from his initial parried shot.
This only spurred the visitors into action, though. The second goal for Downton came following another classy move involving Waters, his pinpoint pass eventually reaching Turpin, who claimed his second of the game.
The excitable Downton fans didn’t have to wait long for another goal. This time, Vince Rusher was the creative source, his cross beind headed into the path of the onrushing Danny Finnigan, whose strike ensured that the Robins went in two goals up, leading 3-1.
The game, and the goals, were far from finished, and after soaking up some early pressure from the home team, the next goal was very much the strike of the match. The home team failed to deal with a bit of pressure in their own half, and the ball squirmed its way through to Danny Finnigan – and from some 25 yards out, he struck the sweetest of half volleys. From the moment it left his foot, there was only one outcome; the goal bulged and it’s fair to say that the throng of traveling Downton fans were now somewhat euphoric!
There was still time for Buckland, who had certainly played well, to threaten a comeback; a quality run down the left lead to a delivery over Charlie Aldridge, and a finish to match from the hosts.
Downton rallied well, controlling much of the ball, and finally putting the game to bed, hitting Buckland on the break – Danny Urry, by now on for Rusher, releasing Turpin to snatch his hattrick.
A historic game for the Robins, who are now in the hat for the third round for the first time ever.
Downton FC 4-3 Totton & Eling
Tuesday 13th November, Sydenhams Premier League
Downton enjoyed a remarkable comeback in a match that looked lost beyond redemption, giving the Robins all three points and shooting them back to the top of the Sydenhams Premier League.
A whole array of mistakes saw the Robins fall behind not by one goal, but three, including an own goal of almost comical proportions from the usually fautless Vince Rusher – a sign that, perhaps, it wasn’t to be Downton’s night.
But this is one team that should never be written off. The Robins, despite being three down, had more of the possession and chances, but hadn’t managed to score a single goal.
But that all changed with the introduction of supersub Jamie Waters. He opened Downton’s account with a goal from the penalty spot, before two headers – the first from captain Josh Thomas and the next from striker Nic Turpin – brought the Robins back level.
The Roy of the Rovers moment was saved for the last strike of the match, with Waters skipping past two challenges and driving the ball from the edge of the area into the corner of the net. The win lifted the Robins back into first place, having played a game more than 2nd place Christchurch.
Lymington Town 1-3 Downton FC
Saturday 10th November, Sydenhams Premier League
Downton bounced back from their second league loss of the season with a fine win over Lymington Town.
After a decent opening half from Downton, it was Brandon Mundy who opened the scoring with what many feel will be difficult to top as goal of the season, giving the Robins a 1-0 lead at half time.
The goals continued to flow in the second half. Nic Turpin grabbed his 13th goal of the season to put the Robins two-up, and while the hosts managed to grab a goal back, sub Jamie Waters scored an absolute screamer to give Downton a clear victory over their struggling opponents
The win puts the Robins back on top of the league, on goal difference, with one game in hand over Moneyfields - due to visit Wick Lane at the end of November.
Newport (IOW) 1-0 Downton FC
Wednesday 7th November, Sydenhams Premier League
The Robins suffered only their second league defeat of the season with a mid-week trip to the Island.
With skipper Josh Thomas suspended and a Wednesday night trip to the Isle of Wight, preparations would never be ideal, and so it proved with a game that never really got going.
The first half was a stalemate, with little chances for either side. But it was the hosts who broke the deadlock on the 60th minute, a bit of a sucker punch as Downton looked to get going. Despite going down to ten men, Newport managed to hold on to their advantage and Downton failed to take advantage of leaders Christchurch draw the previous night.
Downton 1-0 Purton FC
Saturday 3rd November, Wiltshire Senior Cup
Downton managed their 6th win in a row, again by a margin of one solitary goal, as they moved into the third round of the Wiltshire Senior Cup.
The Robins were without both their recognised strikers, with Declan McGregor and Nic Turpin being unavailable, along with Harvey Coker and Matt Holmes.
With their lower-division opposition pushing hard throughout, Downton still had numerous chances to take the lead in the first half, with home custodian Charlie Aldridge rarely troubled. Vince Rusher uncharacteristically missed when through on goal, while chances also fell to Danny Urry and Danny Finnigan.
With the tie goalless at half time but the Robins clearly on top, no changes were deemed necessary by manager Jeff Softley.
The breakthrough came 20 minutes into the second half, Danny Urry going on a jinking run only to be bought down in the box. Vince Rusher stood up and this time made no mistake, dispatching the resulting penalty with ease.
The next round of the Cup sees Downton travelling to Devizes - the original date being the 17th November, but with the Robins travelling to Buckland Athletic in the FA Vase, a new date is yet to be confirmed.
AFC Portchester 0-1 Downton FC
Saturday 27th October, Sydenhams Premier League
Downton’s run of victories continued with a hard-fought win over AFC Portchester.
With a number of players missing – including skipper Josh Thomas and striker Declan McGregor – the Robins played a slightly unfamiliar line up, but still proved strong enough to overcome a dogged Portchester side.
The key goal came from Danny Urry, on a fine run of form, striking an excellent finish past the stranded Portchester keeper. The win keeps the Robins top of the table, 2 points ahead of Christchurch, having played 2 games more.
Downton 1-0 Hamworthy United
Saturday 20th October, Sydenhams Premier League
The Robins reigned supreme over a strong Hamworthy side, earning themselves top spot in the Wessex Premier League for the first time in their history at this stage of the season.
Chances were at an absolute premium in the first half - Downton, missing their first choice defensive duo of the suspended Ben Smith and absent captain Josh Thomas, had the better of the game, but struggled to break down the opposition's midfield and defensive barrier.
The game took on a fairly unattractive trait, with long balls going from one end to the other and little creativity being shown from either team.
However, the few chances that were being created fell to the hosts, with Vinny Rusher and Declan McGregor having half chances which came to little.
Eighty minutes in, manager Jeff Softley played the Matt Holmes card, sending on the midfielder for striker Turpin. It paid dividends immediately, with Holmes threading a delightful ball through to Danny Finnigan, whose touch took him into the penalty area before placing the ball across for Rusher to strike home from a few yards out.
The win proved to be historic, taking Downton to the summit of the Sydenhams Premier League, the first time the Robins have hit the peak at this stage of the season.
Downton 2-1 Alresford Town
Tuesday 16th October, Sydenhams Premier League
Downton managed a fantastic win over highly tipped Alresford Town to put them into second place in the league – and a chance to go top with the visit of Hamworthy United on Saturday.
The Robins got off to a cracking start, Nic Turpin smashing home an early goal. Vinny Rusher then put the hosts two-nil up with a stonewall penalty. Considering Alresford’s form – they won team of the month from the Wessex League last month – Downton were playing extremely well, and were deserved leaders at half-time.
The visitors continued to toil in the second half, though, and following Captain Josh Thomas’s dismissal for his second yellow card, they managed to grab a goal back from the penalty spot.
But the ten men of Downton put up a stunning fight to prevent the visitors from capitalizing on their extra man, running out 2-1 winners.
Downton 2-1 Petersfield Town
Saturday 13th October, FA Vase 1st Round
The Robins thoroughly dominated their tie with lower division Petersfield, eventually running out victors with a scoreline that almost belied their absolute dominance throughout.
With both prize money and a place in the next round, the stakes were clearly high for both teams. However, it was Downton that had all of the early chances, with Declan McGregor going close in the opening minutes. Opportunities came and went for the hosts – Vince Rusher and Nic Turpin all going close to opening the scoring.
The game somehow remained goalless at half-time – Downton clearly fashioning multiple chances against their lower league opponents very few, but just not being able to put the ball in the net.
It was Petersfield who opened the scoring but a minute into the second half, following an uncharacteristic error from goal custodian Charlie Aldridge.
While thoroughly against the run of play, the Robins had to lift themselves, and they continued to push forward with a sense of adventure against opponents who had a more direct approach.
The breakthrough for the hosts finally came when Danny Urry threaded a quality through-ball to Danny Finnigan, the midfielder slotting calmly home.
Chances continued to fall to Downton, with Nic Turpin striking the cross bar, Ben Smith’s overhead kick being beaten away and a handful of penalty appeals being turned down.
At the other side of the pitch, little was happening; a few breaks were threatened, but the home defence remained solid.
Downton finally got the winner that their performance so highly deserved when Declan McGregor squirmed loose of his marker and striking home, with a slight deflection off of the keeper.
There was still time left for the visitors to have a rare foray onto goal, but this time Charlie Aldridge was at his best, thwarting any chance of an equalizer, and avoiding extra-time.
The draw wasn’t complete at time of going to press – look out for details in the next home programme. The tie will be played on 17th November.
Bournemouth Poppies 1-2 Downton
Saturday 5th October, Sydenhams Premier League
Downton returned to winning ways, securing all three points in a scrappy game against Bournemouth Poppies.
Returning skipper Josh Thomas opened the scoring for the Robins in the first half, following good work down the flanks. For a while, Downton threatened to dominate and score a hatful - chances falling to Danny Urry, back from suspension, and Declan McGregor.
The game was finely balanced as it entered into second half, and the hosts started to push hard for a goal, finally getting the breakthrough after 70 minutes. This in turn spurred the Robins into action, with the action all pointing toward the Bournemouth goal. The winning goal came when Harvey Coker thrashed the ball into the net from 12 yards, leaving the opposing keeper stranded and Downton secure in 4th place in the league.
Downton 2-2 New Milton Town
Tuesday 2nd October, Sydenhams Premier League
The Robins dropped more points at home as they struggled to compete with a highly competitive New Milton Town in this midweek encounter.
Danny Finnigan opened the scoring in typical fashion, but then a moment of controversy lead to an equaliser for the visitors - the ball barely looking to have reached, let alone crossed the line.
Nic Turpin put the Robins back in front just before half time, but a further lapse in concentration in the defence lead to the visitors, currently at the foot of the table, grabbing a deserved equaliser.
Downton 0-2 Fareham Town
Saturday 29th September, Sydenhams Premier League
Downton capitulated to their first league loss of the season against a well organised and spirited Fareham Town.
Missing Danny Urry through suspension and with Captain Josh Thomas absent, Fareham punished Downton either side of half time to claim all of the points. Defensive lapses were to blame in both cases, while a penalty save from keeper Charlie Aldridge did little to lift Downton on the day.
While the Robins remain in a strong position in the league, it certainly felt as if the team didn't quite turn up and will be looking to make amends in the next game.
Alton Town 1-5 Downton FC
Tuesday 25th September, Sydenhams Premier League
Downton continued their phenomenal start to the season, returning to league duties in dramatic fashion against struggling Alton Town.
The game was open from the very start, with Danny Finngan grabbing an early goal to set the Robins on their way. Thirty minutes in, top scorer Nic Turpin got his first goal of the evening, and Downton stalwart, Ben Smith, notched the third on the stroke of half time.
The Robins came out firing in the second half, with Turpin scoring two in succession to put Downton five up, and secure his third hattrick of the season. While Alton managed to get a consolation goal, Downton were dominant throughout – still unbeaten in the league this season, and sitting in third place in the league, 3 points off the top but with 3 games in hand on the leaders Moneyfield.
Bradford Town 1-2 Downton FC
Saturday 15th September, FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round
Downton progressed to the first round of the FA Vase, despite a lacklustre second half performance.
The Robins were up 1-0 early on, with a goal from skipper Josh Thomas. A number of chances followed, with the Wessex Premier League leaders restricting their lower league Western League opponents to speculative shots and little else. Danny Urry caused the usual problems down the right, while Downton's defence stood resolute.
A second goal towards the end of the first 45 minutes, grabbed by top scorer Nic Turpin, gave the Robins full control as they went in for the break.
The hosts managed to grab a very scrappy goal back 20 minutes into the second half, with a lack of communication in the Downton defence certainly not helping the outcome. The introduction of Harvey Coker calmed things down slightly, with the Robins passing the ball around a little more, and they managed to see out a game which should've been over as a contest far earlier, sealing their place in the 1st Round of the FA Vase for the third season running.
The next round will be played at home on October 13th, with Petersfield the visitors.
Romsey Town 0-2 Downton FC
Saturday 8th September, Sydenhams Premier League
Donwton found themselves top of the Sydenhams (Wessex) Premier League after a below-par performance against bottom-of-the-league Romsey Town.
In a first half bereft of chances and lacking in quality, the only highlight was Vince Rusher's penalty, cooly put away, giving Downton the lead at half time.
Robins custodian had very little to do throughout, but with the game finely balanced at 1-0, it was with a sense of relief that Nic Turpin converted a quality cross, ensuring the last few minutes were played without incident. Downton now top the league after 5 games played, having won 4 and drawn 1.
Horndean 2-3 Downton FC
Tuesday 4th September, Sydenhams Premier League
The Robins made hard work for themselves against Horndean but eventually came out deserved winners.
With Matt Palmer and Ben Smith unavailable, Downton continued where they left off the previous Saturday, scoring three goals in the first 30 minutes and looking home and dry.
Vince Rusher opened the scoring in typical style, and was followed by skipper Josh Thomas in the 26th minute and striker Declan McGregor just three minutes later. With the game seemingly over, Horndean then struck back in the second half, first through a deflected Josh Thomas own-goal and then through Nathan Paxton.
However, Downton showed a great deal of spirit to hold on for the win and move up into second place in the league.
Downton FC 5-3 Oldland Abbotonians
Saturday 1st September, FA Vase 1st Qualifying Round
Downton needed extra-time to overcome their Western league opponents, eventually running out winners to move into the next round of the FA Vase.
Things started very brightly for the Robins, Declan McGregor scoring after a mere 62 seconds. However, the missing trio of Danny Finnigan, Nic Turpin and Matt Palmer, alongside the injured Ben Smith, appeared to take its toll, with the visitors hitting back to take the lead before half time.
Matty Scott put body on the line to squeeze in an equaliser in the second half, and it appeared to be heading toward extra time when Oldland scored yet again with 15 minutes left on the clock, albeit against the run of play. With the prospect of another cup adventure coming to an end too early in the season, up stepped Vince Rusher in the 92nd minute, when a clear penalty was awarded, to crash the ball home and take the tie into extra time.
From thereon in, it was all Downton, putting the visitors to the sword with goals from first skipper Josh Thomas and then Dec McGregor from the penalty spot. The only blight was Danny Urry's red card, given for retaliation, with two red cards being shown to the visiting team.
Blackfield & Langley 1-0 Downton
Saturday 25th August, FA Cup Preliminary Round
Downton crashed out of the FA Cup with a poor performance against Blackfield & Langley.
Despite being at full strength, the Robins simply didn’t get going in a tie they most certainly should’ve won. The hosts toiled throughout, with one moment of quality giving them the lead. They should’ve extended this when they were awarded a spot kick, but Charlie Aldridge was equal to the challenge.
But the Robins did themselves a disservice, failing to create enough quality chances themselves, although skipper Josh Thomas nearly leveled the score close to full-time, his header from a corner skimming over the bar.
Verwood Town 1-1 Downton
Wednesday 22nd August, Sydenhams Premier League
The Robins secured a valuable point away at Verwood Town in a game in which both sides saw plenty of chances.
The first half was a very tight affair, with the hosts hitting the woodwork twice and a big shout for a penalty, after Declan McGregor was hauled down from behind in the box, falling on deaf ears. With the game finely poised at 0-0 at half time, many believed that the first goal might be the only goal of the match.
It was Verwood who struck first, a well worked goal albeit against the run of play at the time. Downton then started pressing hard, notably after the introduction of Harvey Coker. A freekick from Vince Rusher flew just wide, while both Danny Urry and Danny Western, a sub for Nic Turpin, were unfortunate not to get an equaliser.
WIth the minutes ticking away, it looked as if Downton were going to experience two losses on the bounce, but then Danny Finnigan found himself in space inside the penalty area, slotting home at the near post to bring the Robins level. There was just enough time to fashion a further chance, but the final whistle saw the spoils shared, Downton's first league draw of the season.
Downton 2-4 Alresford Town
Saturday 18th August, Wessex League Cup
Downton capitulated for the first time this season, a disappointing result in a game that the Robins certainly should've got a result out of against Sydenhams Premier League opposition.
Missing key players Charlie Aldridge and Matt Scott, but welcoming back skipper Josh Thomas, Downton certainly had the team to progress further in the Cup. The Robins started brightly, and it was Declan McGregor who took advantage of a mix up in the visitor's defence, heading in after just 10 minutes. He swiftly followed with his and Downton's second, slotting the ball home beyond a stranded keeper. And, by the 25th minute, McGregor had the chance to put away his hattrick, this time Alresford's goalie making a terrific save from a rasping shot.
The game looked all but over, but full credit to the visitors, who struck back with two goals before half time to put an entirely different slant on the game. And it was Alresford who came out of the traps fastest in the second half, and suddenly finding themselves 3-2 up in a game that the Robins should have put to bed before half time.
From thereon in, it was all Downton. Vince Rusher went close with a free kick and a multitude of opportunities went begging for Downton's strikeforce, but Alresford held strong, finally putting the game out of reach with 5 minutes to go, breaking quickly to put the ball beyond Tom Robinson once more.
Downton 4-1 Ash United
Saturday 11th August, FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
The Robins flew smoothly into the next round of the FA Cup with another convincing win, this time over a well-organised Ash United from the Combined Counties.
Downton were without a number of influential players - skipper Josh Thomas, playmaker Danny Urry, right back Will Knight and midfield stalwart Joey Dorrington - but still made it three out of three for a fantastic start to the season. While the scoreline reflected the overall play and dominance of Downton in the latter part of the game, the first 30 minutes were a patchy affair for both teams, with Danny Finnigan going close for the hosts, to be denied by United's keeper.
As is often the case it was left to Vince Rusher to settle nerves, with a cool finish from the penalty spot after striker Declan McGregor was upended in the box.
It was McGregor himself who increased the lead early in the second half, scoring a stunner to kick off his goalscoring exploits for the season. Danny Finnigan then continued his fine goalscoring form, scrambling the ball into the net for Downton's third, and while Ash United managed to score a consolation goal, they were pegged back again just two minutes later when Danny Western, back for a second spell at the Robins, hit the back of the net after a Nic Turpin shot had cracked off the post.
Downton 7-3 GE Hamble
Tuesday 7th August 2012, Sydenhams Premier League
Downton's stunning start to the league campaign continued with a resounding victory over title favourites, GE Hamble.
Having dispatched one of the other highly fancied teams, Blackfield & Langley, 3 days earlier, confidence was high for the Robins and they continued where they left off, with Nic Turpin scoring a fantastic goal early on, a 35 yard screamer that gave the Hamble keeper no chance.
It wasn't all one-way traffic, though, with Downton shipping two goals in 10 minutes to find themselves behind for the first time this season. However, a Danny Finnigan strike, his second in two games, ensured that the Robins went in all square at half time.
The floodgates truly opened in the second half. First Turpin struck again, before a wicked deflection off the Downton striker from a Vinny Rusher shot gave him his hat-trick. Hamble managed to grab their third, briefly threatening to strike back at the Robins, but then it was all Downton who dominated proceedings.
First it was Danny Finnigan, who slotted away just two minutes after Hamble scored. Turpin's fourth, a fantastic first time strike from the edge of the box, looked to be the last of the goals before he popped up again with five minutes to grab his fifth of the night, and ensure that the scoreline reflected the dominance of the Robins in the second half, running out emphatic 7-3 winners against a team of clear quality that will put many to the sword.
Downton FC 4-0 Blackfield & Langley
Vince Rusher was on the score sheet yet again
Saturday 7th August 2012, Syndenhams Premier League
Downton got their campaign off to a storming start against highly fancied Blackfield & Langley.
Fielding an almost full-strength team - Ben Smith deputising as Captain in the absence of Josh Thomas - the Robins looked comfortable from the start. While Blackfield & Langley looked dangerous on the flanks, they did little to trouble keeper Charlie Aldridge early on.
Danny Finnigan, who had a terrific pre-season, carried on his good form by opening the scoring, darting through from midfield to finish off a decent Matt Palmer free-kick. The second goal, late in the first half, was a mix of graft and class - Declan McGregor, for once not on the score sheet, working hard to pounce of a through-ball from Vince Rusher. The ball ricocheted around the visitors penalty area before up popped Danny Urry with a sensational scissor kick.
Any hope for the visitors had of getting anything from the game was quickly dispelled 7 minutes into the second half. Vince Rusher, already the architect of one goal, went on a mazy run through the Blackfield defence before unleashing a slightly deflected shot into the top corner.
There was still more to come for Downton. Last season's top scorer, Nic Turpin, found himself racing clear of the visitors defence before hitting a cracking left foot shot beyond the despairing keeper.
Further chances fell to the Robins, including a one-on-one for ace striker Declan McGregor, who saw his shot well saved by the Blackfield & Langley keeper, who also did well to keep out a Jack Brook's effort late on.
A very exciting start to a season that promises so much for the Robins.
All photos (c) Denis Murphy/Sport4Salisbury unless otherwise stated