FINN Roberts’ second-half strike sealed a shock victory on Wednesday night as Bovey Tracey beat table-topping Ivybridge Town 2-0 in the Peninsula League Premier East.

Ivybridge failed to find the net for the first time since March, and goals from Roberts and Neil Last sentenced the Ivies to their first league defeat in 16 games.

Early exchanges pointed towards an entertaining 90 minutes as both sides looked up for the occasion. An open game afforded half-chances at either end within the opening 10 minutes.

But it was the plucky visitors who saw the first chance of the game go begging. A deft flick over an onrushing defender bounced into the path of Ollie Aplin and he fired from close range but saw his effort saved by Ivybridge ‘keeper Kane Gregory, who reacted well to close down the angle.

Bovey made the breakthrough just shy of the half-hour mark. Last received a cross-field ball deep into the box from Cliff Walters and, with Gregory rooted to the spot, the Moorlanders man floated a header into the netting behind the far post for his fourth goal of the season.

Ivybridge continued to be a real threat. Wing play looked to be the order of the day as the hosts worked the ball wide and relied on the flankers to create the chances. Bovey’s backline dug in well to keep the league leaders at bay and looked well worth their lead come the break.

Bovey centre-back Lee Hildreth goes to ground under pressure from Jordan Ewing.
Bovey centre-back Lee Hildreth goes to ground under pressure from Jordan Ewing. (Alan Craig)

The hosts made the better start to the second half. Bovey shot-stopper Dom Aplin produced a fine save to keep the lead intact on the hour mark but the Ivies plundered on, and on 70 minutes came centimetres from levelling.

Loud appeals came as a goal-mouth scramble saw the ball bounce perilously close to the line with Josh Zimmerman getting the final touch. Much to the dismay of the home crowd, the linesman on the far side was disinterested, and Bovey saw the ball out for a goal-kick.

Roberts doubled Bovey’s advantage 12 minutes from time. A neat move wide on the left allowed the substitute to bear down on goal, and he made no mistake as he broke free of the defence and slammed home into the bottom corner at the far post.

The hosts were clearly alarmed by the deficit, and set about at great pace as they sought a way back into proceedings. But with the increase in urgency came an increase in mistakes as Bovey’s pressing forced Ivybridge into cheap losses of possession. The Moorlanders saw the game out well and recorded their fourth successive win in all competitions.

Mitch Thomas carries the ball along the wing as Bovey were looking to see out the game.
Mitch Thomas carries the ball along the wing as Bovey were looking to see out the game. (Alan Craig)

Upon full-time, Bovey boss Will Small said: ‘[We were] very good, very disciplined, we stuck to our game plan throughout and the lads worked hard off the ball. Our shape was very good and on another day we probably could have had three or four.

‘The lads were all buzzing after that. I think it shows where we’ve come from and where we’re really at. In the first two or three games, we didn’t have a settled squad, people were away on holidays and certain people were missing or different reasons.

‘Now we’ve got everybody available,’ Small continued, ‘we’ve got more of a settled squad and that was a true reflection of what we can really do.

‘Certain comments from [Ivybridge] about us when we arrived about us being a mid table side which, taking our first few games into account, we probably were but since then we’ve turned a corner and the lads are all working hard for each other, we’re creating a lot of chances and we’ve stopped making mistakes, which we were doing in the first three or four games. I think we’ve got a group that’s good enough to be challenging around the top six and tonight we proved that.

‘We’ve come off the back of three good results, so it was hard to make any changes [to the team] and leave anybody out. Part of the game plan was to have discipline and shape for the first hour and work hard knowing that we’ve pace and impact on the bench that can come on and change the game, which is exactly what happened.’