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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
Verwood Town 0 Downton 4
Man of the match, Calum Robertson, scores the fourth goal
Wessex League Division 1, Saturday 26th February
Another win for the Robins put them one step closer to their title dreams in a very impressive victory over Verwood Town.
Despite relative league positions, Verwood started the brighter of the two teams, limiting the Robins to a few speculative efforts in the first 15 minutes. It was Declan McGregor who got Downton off the mark, though, with a smart finish, following good work from Joey Dorrington, who played the ball into Nic Turpin, whose layoff found McGregor and then the back of the net.
Tom Mundy's long throws caused Verwood a number of problems, not least halfway through the first half when the deep throw caused great confusion, but this time McGregor was unable to finish.
The second half brought the best out of Downton. First Matt Palmer's free kick was splilled into the path of McGregor who was just wide of the mark, while, 65 minutes in, strike-partner Nic Turpin's shot, on the slide, evaded both keeper and the far post.
With 70 minutes gone, Ben Halski came on for Matt Redman and scored with his very first touch, latching on Matt Palmer's shot, again spilled by the Verwood keeper, and making no mistake in adding Dowton's second.
Six minutes later, Halski was again involved in the third goal, one of the very highest quality that wouldn't've been out of place numerous leagues higher. Cleverly playing the ball back to Olly Hoare, the ball found its way to McGregor who unselfishly fed Nic Turpin to score Downton's third. This brought Turpin back level with McGregor on goals scored - both having notched an impressive 21 this season.
On the 78th minute, with Verwood reeling, McGregor was instrumental in the fourth and final goal, sprinting down the right win and cutting inside the penalty area before playing in the impressive Calum Robertson to thunder the ball into the back of the net.
There was still time for substitute Dan Gain, who replaced the hard working Joey Dorrington, to somehow miscue from 2 yards out after Ben Halski had laid the ball right across the goal line.
A thoroughly deserved result for the Robins who, with 12 games remaining, find themselves 11 points clear at the top of the table with 2 games in hand. It has now been 11 months to the day since Downton last tasted defeat in the league - having gone through 2010 without losing a single game at home - an impressive statistic that summarises just how the team has performed this season.
Amesbury 0 Downton 4
Wessex League Division 1, Tuesday 22nd February
Downton cruised to victory following a masterclass in finishing in the first half of their rearranged match with Amesbury.
The Robins had originally lead 3-2 through a Nic Turpin hat-trick before the game was originally abandoned back in October, and Turpin wasted no time in getting on the score-sheet again, chipping the keeper inside the first 10 minutes to put Downton one up.
An intelligent through-ball was then converted by Turpin for his, and Downton's second, the striker sliding in to knock the ball past the on-rushing Amesbury keeper.
Not to be left out, McGregor then converted two goals of his own, both a result of his pace and clinical finishing prowess.
Relatively, the second half was a little flat, with Amesbury defending far deeper, but Downton certainly had further opportunities to go further ahead. With the final score of 4-0, Downton still find themselves 8 points clear at the top of the table, with 3 games in hand on their nearest rivals.
East Cowes Victoria 0 Downton 2
Wessex League Division 1, Saturday 19th February
Leading scorers Declan McGregor and Nic Turpin grabbed a second half goal each of see of a determined East Cowes side.
Downton had started the game brightly, and found themselves with a number of chances to take the lead, only to be thwarted by an East Cowes goalkeeper in inspired form. Joey Dorrington, edged out of the man of the match award by Nic Turpin, was singled out for his work rate and input by manager Jeff Softley, and the Robins should've found themselves a goal to the good by the time the half time whistle blew, with McGregor going closest to opening the scoring.
It was his strike partner, Nic Turpin, who found the net half way through the second half though. Picking the ball up outside the area, Turpin bustled his way past two defenders before calmly chipping the keeper. McGregor himself managed to get on the scoresheet with ten minutes left, ensuring that all three points went to the Robins.
With 16 games remaining, Downton continue their unbeaten league record, now 8 points clear at the top of the table.
Downton 2 Tadley Calleva 1
Wessex League Division 1, Saturday 12th February
Defender Josh Thomas turned goalscoring hero as Downton came from behind against a spirited Tadley Calleva side, whose performance belied their league position.
The first half of the game was notable for its lack of incident, but the pace soon picked up in the first few minutes of the second half, with Tadley scoring the opener.
Downton struggled to make their usual impact on the game but remained patient, being rewarded with Thomas' first goal of the game, leaping above the Tadley defence to power in a header.
The final goal, Downton and Thomas' second, was undoubteldy the pick of the bunch, a sweetly struck left foot from the edge of the area right at the end of the game.
Downton's win moves them 5 points clear of nearest rivals AFC Portchester, with 4 games in hand.
Downton FC 0 AFC Portchester 0
Joey Dorrington in action
Wessex League Division 1, Saturday 5th February
The Robins survived a tough encounter with AFC Portchester at Wick Lane to continue their unbeaten run and stay 2 points clear of their nearest rivals, with two games in hand.
There were few chances for either side throughout the game, with Portchester setting out to dullen the Robins' free-flowing game, while the weather - notably the wind - did little to help either side find a rhythm.
Joey Dorrington and Ben Halski both worked hard to generate openings down the flanks, while Declan McGregor had one shot over the bar and Nick Turpin reduced to a few long-range efforts.
Of the two keepers, the Portchester number 1 was by far the busier, with Charlie Aldridge unlikely to find a less busy clean sheet this season.
With chances at a premium, the Robins did have the chance to take all three points when McGregor intelligently played in substitute Matt Redman, only for his shot to be parried by the keeper.
Picture © Colin Ives
Andover New Street 1 Downton FC 4
Wessex League Division 1, Saturday 29th January 2011
Downton's unbeaten league campaign continued with a resounding victory over Andover New Street.
Any number of Downton's players could have got on the score-sheet in the first half. Ben Halski and Declan McGregor both hit the woodwork, but it was Nick Turpin who opened the scoring with a well-taken, first time shot after clearly beating beating the offside trap. Despite dominating proceedings, the Robins only went in 1-0 to the good.
The second half saw continued domination of proceedings, and Turpin soon doubled his, and Downton's, tally with a wonderfully placed headed goal. The ever-industrious McGregor added the third with a snapshot inside the area.
New Street found themselves down to 9 players after a double-sending off following an altercation inside Downton's half but showed a great deal of character in claiming a consolation goal with 10 minutes left.
However, sub Dan Gain scored in the dying moments, being the first to react to a quickly taken throw in and slotting the ball past the New Street keeper.
Bournemouth Poppies 2 Downton FC 0
Wessex League Cup Quarter Finals, Tuesday 25th January 2011
Downton’s impressive run in the Wessex League Cup came to an end at Premier Division outfit, Bournemouth Poppies.
The Poppies scored either side of half-time to run out eventual 2-0 victors, but Downton could take a great deal of heart from the game, a potential precursor to next season should the Robins get promotion. Both manager Jeff Softley and Assistant Manager Matt Holmes commented on the positive nature of Downton’s play, feeling that they dominated for large parts and were unfortunate not to come away with a result that more reflected the play.
Having beaten Premier Division sides Fawley and Christchurch to reach the last 8 of the Wessex, Downton still remain in the (semi finals of the) Wiltshire Senior Cup and are in a strong position in the league with 19 matches remaining.
Downton FC 2 Pewsey Vale 0
Wessex League Division 1, Saturday 22nd January 2011
Downton saw off a talented Pewsey Vale team to move five points clear at the top of the Wessex League Division 1, with 4 games in hand over their nearest rivals.
Ben Halski and Matt Redman came into the starting line up, and Declan McGregor started for the first time since late November. The first half saw few chances for either side, with the visitors coming close on a handful of occassions, Robins' keeper Charlie Aldridge equal to all thrown at him.
Two goals in the second half proved to be decisive with first leading goalscorer McGregor and then Matt Palmer claiming well taken goals. Pewsey once more came back at the Robins but the defence was resolute, with the trio of Lance Cooper, skipper Dan Newman and the long-serving Ben Smith all playing their part in maintaining the clean sheet, and the Robins' fantastic league defensive record, having conceded only 15 league goals all season.
Downton FC 4 Melksham Town 1
Wilts Senior Cup, Saturday 15th January 2011
Downton continued their remarkable season with a hard-fought win over Toolstation Western League’s Melkshaw Town FC.
The first half had its fair share of incident. Defender Josh Thomas had to be taken to hospital after 15 minutes due to a ankle injury – thankfully, not quite as damaging as first feared, although he will be unavailable for 1 to 2 weeks. Olly Hoare took his place in defence but the Robins soon found themselves behind following a scrappy goal from the visitors.
It’s been some time since Downton have failed to score at home – you have to go all the way back to August 2010 to find the last time – and it was clear that the hosts weren’t going to be easily swept aside, despite the approach of the visitors, who found themselves down to ten men with 35 minutes gone, concedinig a penalty in the process, with Calum Robertson keeping a cool head to slot home.
The Robins made their numerical advantage count in the second half and further goals from Joey Dorrington, Matt Palmer and leading goalscorer Declan McGregor ensured that there was no way back for Melksham Town.
Downton now find themselves in the semi-final of the Wilts Senior Cup for the first time in a decade or so, with potential opponents to choose from Bemerton Heath, Highworth Town and one out of Bradford Town or Trowbridge Town.
Picture: © Colin Ives
Stockbridge 1 Downton FC 1
Wessex League Division 1, Monday 3rd January
Downton's phenomenal unbeaten run in the Wessex League Division 1 continued following a rather one-sided draw away against Stockbridge in their first game of 2011.
In a game which saw a number of chances for the Robins to go clear in the first half, it was Dan Gain's goal that opened the scoring. With leading scorer Declan McGregor unavilable, both Nic Turpin and Danny Western found themselves in decent positions to add to the tally, with the Stockbridge keeper making a number of saves in numerous one-on-one encounters with the Downton strikeforce. Somewhat against the run of play, Stockbridge leveled before half-time, a well taken strike which gave Charlie Aldridge little chance.
Changes were made in the second half, with Ben Halski, Matt Redman and Matt Holmes all looking to make an impact. Despite constant Downton pressure, which included Halski striking the post near the end with a ferocious shot, Stockbridge held on for the draw. The point earned ensured that Downton start the New Year 2 points clear of closest rivals, AFC Portchester, with four further games in hand.
Hythe & Dibden 0 Downton FC 4
Wessex League Division 1, Monday 27th December
Despite not playing for a month, Downton recorded a comfortable win over Hythe & Dibden.
Plenty appeared to conspire against the Robins for the fixture, with leading scorer Declan McGregor unavailable, along with Matt Redman and Matt Palmer. Furthermore, the tie was originally scheduled to be played at the home of Downton at Wick Lane but flooding put paid to the fixture, with Hythe & Dibden graciously allowing the tie to go ahead at their own ground.
However, the break had not dented the appetite of free-scoring Downton. Four goals from four different players - Dan Gain, the returning Ben Halski, Danny Western and finally from Nick Turpin - gave the Robins another impressive victory and ensured that, as 2011 beckons, they are well-positioned at the top of the table, two points clear of nearest rivals AFC Portchester and with four games in hand.
Ringwood Town 0 Downton FC 3
Wessex League Division 1, Saturday 27th November
Downton recorded another impressive away victory to stretch their unbeaten record in the league this season.
On a bitterly cold day, and with the Robins without key players Declan McGregor, Danny Western, Matt Palmer and Ben Halski, both sides lined up with relatively weakened sides, Ringwood missing an influential player in Stuart Brown.
The first half brought few chances, Matt Redman’s effort off the crossbar standing out. Downton’s keeper and man-of-the-match Charlie Aldridge pulled off a string of decent stops to keep the home side at bay.
The second half brought all the goals of the match, with Calum Robertson, a dynamo in the midfield, opening the scoring following great work from Dan Gain and Nick Turpin, striking from the edge of the area.
The second goal, some 10 minutes later, was similar, again Robertson with the strike, following on from further work down the line from Dan Gain.
Ringwood continued to threaten but found Aldridge equal to pretty much anything thrown his way, while the Downton defence, lead by skipper Dan Newman, were able to soak up much of the pressure.
With a handful of minutes remaining, substitute Olly Hoare found himself in space in the area, stabbing the ball past the Ringwood keeper to secure a strong win for the Robins, leaving them in 2nd place, just 1 point behind leaders AFC Portchester but with 4 games in hand.
Downton FC 1 Christchurch 0
Man of the Match, Matt Palmer
Wessex League Cup 3rd Round, Tuesday 24th November
Downton progressed to their second quarter final of the season with a strong win over Premier Division Christchurch.
The early encounters were limited to snapshots from Downton, with Christchurch looking dangerous on the break. Nic Turpin was the first to try his luck, turning smartly on the edge of the area and stinging the keepers hands with a quick shot.
Joey Durrington, who started on the right, put in a great cross on the 15th minute, just evading the onrushing Downton strikeforce.
The only goal of the game came on the 28th minute following a well worked free kick. Matt Redman, starting up front for the injured Declan McGregor, threaded the ball through to Matt Palmer and his cross was bundled over the line by Turpin for his 14th goal of the campaign.
Christchurch came back at the Robins, putting a half volley just wide of the post, while Redman and Palmer combined cleverly again from a corner, this time captain Dan Newman firing just wide from the resulting cross.
The only blot on the first half was man of the match Palmer’s booking for an innocuous challenge at the end of the 45 minutes.
The second half was entertaining although only a handful of chances fell for the Robins. Redman’s cross was snuffed out on 52 minutes while, 5 minutes later, Turpin evaded the defence but again the final ball failed to reach strike partner Redman.
With ten minutes remaning, Olly Hoare and Matt Holmes came on for Redman and Palmer and it almost paid dividends immediately, Nic Turpin forcing the ball through to Hoare in the penalty area, only for the ball to get stuck under his feet and the final effort bobbling wide.
Hoare was again involved towards the end of the game, squaring the ball to Dan Gain whose effort was again saved by the keeper. It wasn’t all one way traffic – Josh Thomas had to clear from the centre of the Robins penalty area and Charlie Aldridge had to make a couple of saves. Turpin nearly grabbed his second when he broke through, only for the keeper to come out and smother the ball.
With seconds remaining, Tom Western got a run-out, coming on for the hard-working Turpin, with his goal being decisive and taking Downton through to the next round.
Downton FC 3 Andover New Street 3
Goalscorer Nic Turpin
Wessex League Division 1, Saturday 20th November
Downton returned to league action on Saturday with a six-goal thriller against on-form Andover New Street.
The early spoils seemed to be going Downton's way when first Josh Thomas, with a deflected header from a Calum Robertson effort and then Nic Turpin, who beat the keeper in a one-on-one, put the Robins into what appeared to be a secure 2-0 lead in the first half. Just before the break, though, Andover finally broke the resistance of stand-in keeper Stephen Fox, with the Robins finishing the half 2-1 to the good.
The game became even more open in the second half, resulting in an Andover equaliser midway through the second half. Downton went seeking their third and appeared to have the game won when Calum Robertson scored his 4th goal of the campaign with only a few minutes of normal time left.
However, for the second week in succession, there were more than 6 minutes of injury time and, right at the death, Andover grabbed their third and equalising goal.
Downton FC 2 Cadbury Heath 3
FA Vase 2nd round, Saturday 13th November
Downton exited the FA Vase following a disappointing result against Cadbury Heath.
The first half was dominated by the visitors, but, with only one goal to show for their efforts, the game remained within reach of the Robins.
Downton certainly played far better in the second half, rewarded with a scrambled goal from Calum Robertson to bring the Robins level, but they soon went behind again to a well taken goal from Cadbury.
With 10 minutes remaining, Josh Thomas powered in the second equalizer and the game looked to be heading into extra time.
With time ticking away, Matt Redman found himself in space but his shot went agonizingly wide – and Cadbury took full advantage, breaking quickly and grabbing the winner in what turned out to be the 6th minute of injury time
All photos (c) Denis Murphy/Sport4Salisbury unless otherwise stated