THE flagship fixture for the South Devon Football League calendar saw Newton Abbot ’66 and Ilsington Villa battle it out for the coveted Herald Cup. More than 300 people were in attendance at the home of Stoke Gabriel with everyone being well looked after.

66 went into the game as underdogs with a poor run of league form leaving them in the bottom half of the Premier Division. Whilst most teams have players out with injuries at this time of the season, 66 seem to have suffered more than most, the presence of club stalwart Marc Graham on the bench saying it all. For Ilsington Villa, they came into the game full of confidence, only last Saturday they were crowned Premier League champions for the first time in their history, losing just once in this stretch and having beaten these opponents by seven unanswered goals across their two meetings.

With 8 of the top 18 goal scorers in the division playing in this final, the stage was set for a goal-fest, but resolute defending from 66 showed that they didn’t read the script. Jack Langford was sure to be the difference maker for Villa, thus he wasn’t given any time on the ball where possible.

The first main talking point on the sidelines was when Ilsington Villa had to replace their goalkeeper Tom Watson through injury and despite having a substitute keeper named on the team sheet they replaced him with top scorer Daniel Langford. The disbelief and delight from the 66 bench as a result was there for all to see regarding this puzzling decision. It was not until the 67th minute that the break though came but it was well worth the wait, an innocuous cross from Ashley Dove fell a bit short for the only 66 forward in the penalty box and he was surrounded by 4 defenders. As it was short though, Tom Lowe was allowed to chest it away from the defenders and volley the ball into the top of the net to send the team into the corner to celebrate.

Within 20 seconds of the restart, Villa had their best chance of the game when Jamie Beer really should have equalised but Jack Callum in the 66 goal made him shoot wide. In the last 20 minutes, there were seven substitutions made with one team trying to freshen things up, and the other looking to slow things down. Ilsington huffed and puffed to no avail, meaning that Newton 66 went on to win the Herald Cup for the first time in 24 years- unsurprisingly, the celebrations were said to have carried on well into the early hours of the morning.