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Downton 1-3 Pewsey Value
Wessex League Division 1, 3rd April
Downton's third hospital cup final in as many years ended in a rare defeat for the Robins.
Pewsey took the lead in the 30th minute and looked in control throughout, doubling their tally in the 70th.
Sub Matt Redman came on to score a few minutes later and, for a while, the Robins looked like they might threaten to grab an equaliser. However, tired legs after a long season were the eventual undoing, with Pewsey breaking in the 84th minute to grab their third and put the game out of reach for Downton.
Downton 5 Hythe & Dibden 0
Wessex League Division 1, 26th April
Downton’s final game in the Wessex League Division 1 turned into a rout as the free-scoring Robins made short work of their opponents.
Downton had a myriad of chances in the first 20 minutes, including a spectacular Ben Halski drive from 40 yards which was tipped over by the keeper, but, following Declan McGregor’s headed goal in the 23rd minute, the floodgates truly opened. First Nic Turpin fired in his 34th goal of the season from close range, and then McGregor finished off his hat-trick in the last two minutes of the first half.
The Robins came out firing on all cylinders, Ben Smith steering home Downton’s fifth 15 minutes after the restart. A number of further chances went begging, with the Hythe keeper keeping the score relatively reasonable, and the post and bar coming to their rescue when he was beaten.
A fitting end to a wonderful season.
Downton 5-0 Salisbury City
Hospital Cup Semi-Final, Thursday 21st April
A phenomenal performance by Wessex League Division 1 Champions Downton, as they put Salisbury to the sword in the semi finals of the Hospital Cup.
With the Whites keen to secure their own league position, a young team, with a handful of first team players, turned up at Wick Lane in hope of a victory. But from Declan McGregor’s opener in the third minute through to wrapping up his hat-trick in the 67th, the Robins were by far the superior team.
Experience was the telling factor throughout, McGregor opening the scoring with a striker’s goal after the young Salisbury keeper dropped the ball at his feet. He doubled the lead half an hour later, the only surprise being that it took so long, and skipper Dan Newman made it 3 with a bullet header before half time.
A fabulous free kick from Matt Redman made it 4 after 55 minutes, and McGregor came up with a classic for his hat-trick on the 67th. A hatful of chances for both McGregor and strike partner Nic Turpin followed but, in the end, a deserved victory and a third Hospital Cup final visit in as many years for the Robins.
Downton 8-1 East Cowes Victoria
Wessex League Division 1, Saturday 16th April
The Robins won their penultimate league game in great style on the day that they were handed the league trophy.
The game was wrapped up in a very short time frame as the Robins’ strikers ran rampant, breaking records as they went and surpassing 100 goals for the first time in their Wessex League history.
Nic Turpin and Calum Roberston opened the coring, putting the Robins 2 up in the first 7 minutes. Despite a hatful of chances, Downton went in just two goals to the good.
The second half opened the floodgates, with Turpin scoring just after half time, Declan McGregor following with a 65th minute goal and substitute Ben Halski grabbing 2 in as many minutes. McGregor fittingly scored Downton’s hundredth goal of the season before Turpin grabbed a hat-trick from Halski’s cross-shot.
A stunning victory, not the least blighted by a consolation from the visitors, and one which epitomized Downton’s free-flowing, goal-grabbing football wonderfully well.
Petersfield Town 2 Downton 2
Wessex League Division 1, Tuesday 12th April
The Robins made club history following their draw at Petersfield which confirmed their position as Champions of the Wessex League Division 1 for the first time since joining the league.
The Robins were pushing for goals from the very start. Leading scorers Declan McGregor and Nic Turpin both had numerous chances, while Dan Gain came close. Matt Holmes corner found Dan Newman, but his headed effort was just over.
Fittingly, Downton’s goals, both in the second half, came from top scorers Declan McGregor and Nic Turpin. Petersfield staged a late come back with goals in the 85th and 88th minutes.
But, in the end, it was very much Downton’s night and the point gained was enough to win them the league title, with two games still to play.
Cowes Sports 1 Downton 2
Wessex League Division 1, Saturday 9th April
Downton continued their march towards the Championship with a scrappy but well earned victory over Cowes Sports. Ben Smith calmed the nerves of the Robins with an early opening goal, but a mix up at the other end let Cowes back in towards half time.
It was left to Declan McGregor to notch up his 29th goal of the season, from the penalty spot, and win the game for Downton which effectively hands them the title – while nearest rivals Horndean can catch the Robins, the goal difference makes the title all but certain. A point on Tuesday would confirm Downton as Wessex Division One Champions for the first time in their history.
Downton 3 Redlynch & Woodfalls 2
Hospital Cup, Tuesday 5th April Downton’s quest for a third Hospital Cup trophy in as many years kicked off successfully with a win over Redlynch and Woodfalls.
Two goals from Nic Turpin and a winner from Dan Gain were enough to see off the lively visitors. Debuts were also given to Jack Edwards, captain of the Clarendon Under 18s team and Tom Aldridge, brother of keeper Charlie, with both giving encouraging performances. The next round will be announced shortly.
Downton 0 Horndean 2
Wessex League Division 1, Saturday 2nd April
The champagne remained on ice as 10-man Downton found themselves unlucky to be on the receiving end of only their second defeat of the season.
As to be expected from the top two teams in the league, the game was very tight in the first half, with chances at a premium and passions high. However, the game was decided by a controversial refereeing decision in the 40th minute when the ball broke on the edge of the Downton box and keeper Charlie Aldridge sprinting off his line to block a shot from the Horndean striker. Despite the striker getting his shot away, Charlie’s momentum carried him through the player – and the ref decided that this was not only a foul and a penalty, but a sending off offence too.
With Downton down to 10 men, sub Mark Gulliver took over the keeper’s jersey, but could do little about the resulting penalty.
The Robins showed a huge amount of character in the second half, dominating play at times and had a handful of chances to square the game. Declan McGregor had a fine effort parried by the keeper on the 58th minute, while, 10 minutes later, Paul Gulliver’s headed effort caused some confusion in the box, the Horndean keeper claiming the ball at the second time of asking.
The sucker punch came in the very last minute, with Horndean managing to scrape a second goal.
The Robins need 4 points from their final 4 games to claim the title – assuming that Horndean win their remaining games.
Fleet Spurs 2 Downton 5
Wessex League Division 1, Tuesday 29th March
Downton marched on towards the league title with a crushing win over Fleet Spurs.
Despite going one down early on, the Robins showed fantastic character in brushing aside the set back and scoring two goals before half time. Dan Gain scored a great goal on the half an hour mark and the lively Declan McGregor added to his impressive tally with a fine goal just before half time.
The Robins came out firing in the second half. Ben Halski notched the third within moments of the restart, and McGregor's penalty, his 28th goal of the season, made it 4-1. Fleet Spurs grabbed one back but the returning Matt Redman made it 5-2 on the stroke of full-time.
With Horndean, the only team that can theoretically stop the Robins, visiting on Saturday, a win would confirm Downton as Wessex League division 1 champions for the first time in their history.
Downton 3 Petersfield Town 0
Wessex League Division 1, Saturday 26th March
The Robins confirmed promotion to the Wessex Premier with an impressive win over in-form Petersfield Town.
Petersfield had scored 19 goals in their previous 3 games, while the Robins, who recently lost their unbeaten record, were aware that a victory would give them promotion.
However, it was the Robins that got the scoring underway with a fantastic opening goal in the 10th minute. Matt Holmes floated in a cross, Declan McGregor flicked it down to the returning Calum Robertson, who poked it through to Nic Turpin to tap home.
Ben Smith nearly doubled the tally from a corner, his bullet goal-bound header being deflected over.
Downton came out all guns blazing in the second half. Ben Smith managed to put his flying header into the net on the 60th minute, but the goal was disallowed for an infringement against the Petersfield keeper. Paul Gulliver’s ball in a minute later evaded McGregor.
It was McGregor, though, he made the second, his shot hitting the post for James Fry, making his debut, to follow up and score.
And it was apt the McGregor himself got the last word, scoring in a one-on-one in the last minute, his, and the team's, elation at promotion very apparent.
Shaftesbury 0 Downton 4
Wessex League Division 1, Saturday 19th March
The Robins returned to winning ways as they closed in on promotion into the Wessex premier League.
With leading goalscorer Declan McGregor unavailable, and long-term injuries keeping Calum Robertson, Oli Hoare and Lance Cooper out of the team, manager Jeff Softley was forced to shuffle a depleted squad, starting Matt Redman up front, Paul Gulliver in defence and Joey Dorrington in his more familiar midfield role.
It was Redman who opened the scoring with a pin point shot on the 10th minute, and he went one better with a delightful chip in the 22nd minute. Despite a number of chances to capitalise on their position, the Robins went in at half time, good value for their two goal lead.
Matt Redman had picked up a knock in the first half, which meant another reshuffle for the second 45. Downton's injury worries threatened to spill over into a crisis when first Josh Thomas and then Ben Halski both went down under heavy challenges. Both managed to continue, though, and Halski grabbed himself a goal, converting a 75th minute penalty won after Nic Turpin was floored by the home goalkeeper. The day got much worse for the Shaftesbury #1, though, when, 10 minutes later, he erroneously played a free kick straight into the path of Halski, who won't get an easier goal all season. Despite protestations about Downton not being 10 yards, the goal stood, resulting in another four goal haul for league leaders.
Downton 2 Bradford Town 3
Wiltshire Senior Cup, Tuesday 15th March
Downton’s septimana horribilis culminated in a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Western Division 1 side Bradford Town in the semi finals of the Wiltshire Senior Cup.
Downton had started brightly enough, with Ben Halski grabbing the opener and seeing a chance to grab a second go begging soon after. The opposition, clearly a solid side, bearly troubled keeper Charlie Aldridge in the first 45 minutes and the Robins came off the pitch, sitting comfortably but with only one goal to show for their troubles.
It was Brandford who came out the blocks quickest in the second half, scoring after 55 minutes from a free header. Downton had a decent penalty appeal turned down several minutes later, following which Bradford struck again.
Two more goals in the next 5 minutes really summed up the game. Josh Thomas rose above everyone to score after 70 minutes, but parity was short-lived as Bradford struck almost immediately.
Downton went after a further equalizer but, despite the vast majority of the play, Charlie Aldridge coming up for a last minute free kick and another decent penalty appeal, the match ended with Bradford Town as victors and a surprise second defeat in four days for the Robins.
Downton 1 Warminster Town 2
Matt Holmes forging forward for the Robins
Wessex League Division 1, Saturday 12th March
Downton’s unbeaten run came to an end against plucky Warminster Town, following 27 games without defeat in the league.
Downton were missing some key players – Ben Smith, Calum Robertson, Lance Cooper – but will still be disappointed to have lost a game that they often controlled. After half an hour, both Tom Mundy and Dan Gain had the chance to get the Robins an opener, but neither could quite connect in quite a goal mouth scramble.
Towards the end of the half, Matt Palmer was booked, along with the Warminster number 9, which later proved pivotal; soon after, the visitors found themselves 1-0 up, with a free header giving Charlie Aldridge no chance.
A number of set pieces in the second half gave Downton ample opportunity to claw back a goal, but the closests, a Ben Halski free kick, went straight at the keeper. Matt Redman, who came on for Joey Dorrington, had an opportunity to score when Dan Newman headed the ball back across the box from a corner, but Redman saw his sliding effort loop over the bar.
However, it was Redman who finally got the goal that the Robins both deserved and craved. Dan Gain ran into the visitors box, went down under pressure, and Redman picked the ball up and thrashed it into the bottom corner.
Rae Hughes, who replaced Nic Turpin with 10 minutes to go, blazed a shot over the edge of the box. But things then went from bad to worse for Downton – leading scorer Declan McGregor picked up a foot injury, but decided to play on since Downton had used all three subs, following which Matt Palmer was sent off for a second yellow card.
From the resulting free-kick, Warminster scored with a cracking shot – and with 7 minutes of injury time already played, there was simply no way back for Downton.
Pewsey Vale 0 Downton 0
Wessex League Division 1, Tuesday 8th March
The Robins moved to within 10 points of promotion following a tough away trip to Pewsey, with both teams drawing a blank.
The first chance of the game came in the 10th minute, Nick Turpin grazing the bar from 25 yard. The Robins then started to control the game, leading goalscorer Declan McGregor setting up Turpin again, his short this time wide. Matt Holmes, starting his second game in four days, showed great vision, caressing a through ball for the lively Turpin, only to be foiled by the keeper.
The dynamics of the game changed considerably when Pewsey went down to ten men. Josh Thomas played a long ball from his own half for Turpin to once again latch onto, closely followed by a Pewsey defender who, in turn, clipped his heels, giving the ref no choice but to dismiss him.
The second half saw a regrouped Pewsey start to put more pressure on the Robins, although Downton always looked dangerous on the break. It was the home team that came the closest to scoring in the opening skirmishes of the second 45, Pewsey’s captain hitting the upright with a dangerous free kick.
This seemed to spur Downton onward, as they continued to press and started to enforce their game upon the Vale. With continuous endeavour, Downton failed to break down a resolute Pewsey defence. With ten minutes remaining, Turpin was replaced by Paul Gulliver and Holmes replaced by Oli Hoare and the changes almost paid off, with Gulliver linking with McGregor to come close with a snap shot.
On balance, the draw was a fair result, with Downton’s man-of-the-match being the ebullient Ben Smith.
Report courtesy of cub reporter, Matt Holmes...
Whitchurch United 1 Downton 4
Wessex League Division 1, Saturday 5th March
Downton took their tally to 19 goals in 4 games with a well-earned victory over high flying Whitchurch United.
Following their cracking start against Ringwood on the previous Tuesday, the Robins started relatively slowly, with few chances in the first ten minutes. However, Declan McGregor sprinted onto an opportunity in the 14th minute, following a mix up in the Whitchurch defence, to put Downton one up.
Downton's second, on the 21st minute, was of the highest quality. Dan Gain gave the ball to Nic Turpin in the middle of the Whitchurch half. His threaded pass to McGregor was then retured across into the box for Turpin to place perfectly into the back of the net.
Turpin had a chance to double his tally a few minutes later, receiving a great ball from Ben Halski, turning neatly on the edge of the box and lashing the ball towards goal, stopped only by the Whitchurch keeper.
It wasn't all Downton though - Charlie Aldridge made a great save on the 23rd minute, tipping a goalbound header past the post, and Whitchurch had a couple more chances after the half hour mark, poor finishing letting them down.
By the 37th minute, Downton were three up. Matt Holmes, starting his first game in a few weeks, won a crushing 50-50 ball, which found its way to Turpin, who initially looked offside but ran on to finish with a brilliantly delicate chip over the keeper. Whitchurch found themselves down to ten men following the goal, their player leaving the pitch for dissent.
Ben Halski was taken off due to a groin injury at half time, replaced by the hard working Joey Dorrington. Whitchurch continued to press and were eventually rewarded with a goal in the 67th minute, which certainly woke up the Robins attack. McGregor's cross on the 70th minute was just over from the head of Josh Thomas and, 4 minutes later, Ben Smith had a header cleared off the line.
Man of the match, Nic Turpin, whose goals and work-rate typified his recent performances, managed to grab his hat-trick in the very last minute, picking up a poor goal kick from the Whitchurch keeper and hitting a glorious 25 yard strike into the back of the net.
With 68 points in the bag and 17 points clear of their nearest rivals, Downton now need a further 13 points from their last 10 games to secure promotion to the Wessex Premier League - next up is a tough away trip to Pewsey Vale this coming Tuesday.
Downton 7 Ringwood Town 1
Hat-trick hero, Declan McGregor
Wessex League Division 1, Tuesday 1st March
The Robins managed their biggest league win of the season, scoring a stunning seven goals as they breezed past Ringwood Town.
Fresh off of 4 straight wins, in which they'd scored 12 goals with only one in reply, Downton took little time in gaining the upper hand, Nic Turpin scoring in the first 60 seconds. Leading goalscorer, Declan McGregor, doubled the tally within a few minutes and, when he scored his second in the 30th minute, the tie was all but over.
Ben Halski, who had earlier missed what appeared to be the simplest of chances, scored Downton's fourth 5 minutes later, making the half-time score 4-0 - which completely reflected Downton's domination of the game.
Never one to rest on his laurels, McGregor completed his hat-trick moments after the restart, taking him to 24 goals, now two clear of strike-partner Turpin. Ringwood deserve full credit for continuing to press for a consolation goal at least, which came on 58 minutes, but there were further opportunities for Downton to extend their lead. Matt Palmer had the ball in the net, but was ruled out for an earlier offside, so it was left to first Ben Halski and then Dan Gain to extend the goal tally to a magnificent seven.
With nearest rivals AFC Portchester not playing last night, Downton now find themselves 14 points clear at the top of the table with 12 games remaining.
Picture © Colin Ives
All photos (c) Denis Murphy/Sport4Salisbury unless otherwise stated