NEIL Last’s second-half double helped Bovey Tracey to a 4-1 friendly win over Devon League side Lakeside Athletic on Wednesday night.

Jack Presland got the visiting Lakers off the mark but a resurgence from the hosts saw Last (2), Callum Leech and Ollie Aplin swing the scoreboard in Bovey’s favour.

'It’s nice to keep the winning run going but I think we all know we haven’t really played to our full potential tonight,’ said Moorlanders manager Will Small.

'We can’t take anything away from [Lakeside] – they are a very good side and very well organised with some decent players – but for the first half we weren’t at the races at all; we were way off the pace. Even in the warm-up, we weren’t really at it.

'But in the second half, once we’d made a few changes, we were a lot better. It’s hard when you have new faces in there – we had two tonight making debuts and five total new faces from last season integrated. It’s hard when you’re playing a team from a lower league to turn up and get up for it but the positive is that we scored four goals and could have had a lot more.

'Above all, it’s important to keep the winning run going.’

26-07-23 Bovey 4 Lakeside 1
Bovey Tracey youngster James Watts-Barciela, right, has moved into contention for the starting XI after an excellent pre-season. (Alan Craig)

The Devon League side were playing some sumptuous football before they converted it into the breakthrough on 20 minutes. Front-man Presland was slid through to storm towards Dom Aplin’s goal and he thundered the ball home off the underside of the crossbar.

On the half-hour mark, Last was introduced off the bench. Seconds later, he was the beneficiary of a fortunate bounce and wriggled his way past the defence to tap into an empty net from inches out.

He added his – and Bovey’s – second just after the break when he cheekily chipped home a rebound from a Sean Finch penalty that had been well saved.

'Neil scored 20-odd goals last season,’ Small explained, 'and he played half the season at right-back come the end, so he’s got that little bit of magic and he’s got that knack of being in the right place at the right time and he’s good with both feet and his head.

'It’s great to have other people chipping in with goals, so if he can do that again and add to what Ollie [Aplin] and Sean [Finch] and the others are doing, then it’s great for us.’

Leech put daylight between the two sides just past the hour and Aplin rounded off the scoring with a 90th-minute strike.

26-07-23 Bovey 4 Lakeside 1
Ollie Aplin, left, joined the scoresheet in the dying moments of the game. (Alan Craig)

'I always think in pre-season you have to find yourself a balance with fixtures,’ said Small.

'A couple from the league above, a couple from our league and a team from the league below. We wanted a challenge from a side who are physical but well organised. Having seen a bit of [Lakeside] last season, I knew that they could offer us something different that we haven’t come up against in pre-season.

'I thought we coped with it well, and the lads stood up to it. Nobody backed down from a tackle and when they got kicked, they got up and got on with it, so it is pleasing in that respect and it was a good fixture that we got a lot out of.’

The meeting with Lakeside was always earmarked as one where players on the fringe of the squad would get an opportunity to get important minutes under their belt, and Small is pleased by the depth his squad has shown.

26-07-23 Bovey 4 Lakeside 1
Forward Jerry Revell, centre, has played – and scored – off the bench for Bovey in the past. (Alan Craig)

'We’ve got 18 lads available to us,’ he said.

'All of them offer us something slightly different – and it’s just about finding that winning formula and that right balance each week. Playing twice a week, we will have to rotate the squad and everybody will have a massive part to play, so tonight those lads came in and some of them did themselves a favour and put in a shift.

'Others will perhaps go away thinking they could have been a bit better but those lads who haven’t played great know they haven’t and everyone is entitled to an off-day. It’s better to have those now than when the season starts.’