Last year’s Herald Cup runners-up Newton Abbot ’66 have a golden opportunity to right those wrongs. Kingsteignton Athletic were the team to beat them, making it two wins on the spin for the Rams in this competition.

This time around though, it is Ilsington Villa who stand in the way of 66, a club whose last and only appearance at this stage came back in 1981. Upton Athletic were their opponents over 40 years ago and so both of these trophy hopefuls have scores to settle.

The two finalists endured very different games at the last stage, only to then enjoy the same outcome. Ilsington made light work of Ashburton in their semi-final, scoring six unanswered goals at Duckspond.

Newton 66 meanwhile had to finish their game in the dark, owing to the ultimate extra-time drama. Newton Spurs Reserves picked up two red cards which obviously made a major difference, this being described as “a moment of madness”, and then their local rivals were just about able to eke out the victory thanks to Stijn Brussen.

Ilsington came out on top in a seven-goal thriller, prior to hitting Ashburton for six, and they also romped to the league title. Winning 17 of 19 outings in the TCS South Devon Football League Premier is some going, not to mention that 66 are eighth in this same league at the time of writing, which may well give an indication of what to expect under the lights at the home of Stoke Gabriel and Torbay Police.

66 manager Ian Clenehan spoke on how this is “a massive occasion for the club”, after all, “The Herald Cup is known throughout South Devon and is very highly thought of.”

He was also full of praise for his opposite number and the Ilsington team in general, labelling them as “Exceptional and well-organised”, before going on to say the following: “We have great respect for them. They are a hard-working bunch who will run through walls for each other and so we have to be prepared to do the same and match that.”

As has been previously alluded too, the league standings favour Villa but with determination like that to compete, then it really could go either way. 66 were met with a number of setbacks from the gritty semi-final win over Spurs, “two ever-presents in Sean Boldick and George Dodge were lost to injury”, both of whom are key fixtures at the spine of the team. “Normally, you get to make a tactical change but I had to make five injury subs in that one, which doesn’t happen often.” That duo are just two of the missing men and so the “preparation could certainly have been better.”

Will ’66 be able to bounce back from last year’s agony, or will Ilsington Villa rub salt into their Herald Cup wounds?