OWEN Stockton ensured Buckland Athletic head into the summer on a high after a 2-1 win over Barnstaple Town on Saturday.

Cieran Bridger netted an early opener and Stockton’s goal proved to be the winner as Barnstaple’s former Buck, Tor Swann, clapped back with a deficit-halving strike at the death.

‘It was a decent away performance – throughout the season our away form has been better than our home,’ said Buckland Head Coach Dan Hart. ‘Defensively we were very solid. 

‘I felt that we could’ve ran away with the game if we had finished our chances. It’s a nice way to finish our season, as opposed to when we came here last year [4-3 defeat].’

It took six minutes for the Bucks to push their noses in front. Chief goal-smith Jared Lewington was played in behind by a clever ball over the defence but saw his shot crash back off the post. The ball was collected by Bridger, who duly tucked home from the edge of the box.

The advantage was doubled on the half-hour mark. Barnstaple goalkeeper Jack Arthur was drawn off his line to punch a high ball clear but it only went as far as Stockton, who lifted a shot home over the crowd of bodies.

Barnstaple Town 1-2 Buckland Athletic
Buckland captain Rob Farkins, centre, joins the celebrations for Owen Stockton's goal. (Josh Goodman)

‘It is a difficult place to come and they try make it a fortress,’ Hart said. ‘We started with impetus and freedom – obviously there wasn’t much on the line other than the position in the league which we have achieved, and I’m pleased with that. 

‘We feel we have huge potential as a club and it’s performances like today – the way that we started and the way that we showed consistency throughout – that show our progress.

‘Barnstaple are a good side and threw everything at us to avoid Falmouth [Town] in the play-offs but I’m not shocked at all by winning today or our level of quality. 

‘This is a fantastic time to know where you are and build some momentum, and I think we will have a really strong outfit that can achieve our goals next season.’

Barum hit back in injury-time through former Buckland youngster Swann. A Billy Tucker free-kick was swatted unconvincingly by largely-untested Buckland ‘keeper Tyler Coombes and Swann was on hand to turn home.

‘Billy Tucker strikes a great free-kick and Tyler, who was faultless up until that point, palms it out and Tor finishes it,’ Hart explained. ‘I am disappointed [to lose the clean sheet] but overall it’s the points that matter and to finish sixth is where I predicted we would after such a difficult start. 

‘Even if that’s a pessimistic view, it’s a realistic one, and my realistic view for next season is far more positive.’