JOSH Haynes’ first-half double proved to be the difference as Bovey Tracey eked out a 2-1 win over Elburton Villa on Saturday, writes Josh Goodman.

Haynes opened his account on 12 minutes when he received a pass from sprightly winger James Watts-Barciela, controlled with his left foot and smashed home with his right.

The visitors doubled their advantage on the half-hour mark. Lewis Perring launched a quick, long throw-in into the penalty area and the ball was helped on by Ollie Aplin for an unmarked Haynes to gleefully stab home at the far post.

Bovey set up deeper in the second half and were made to pay only eight minutes after the restart. A goal-mouth melee saw the ball strike grounded defender Mitch Thomas in a sensitive area but the referee deemed it a handball, awarding Elburton a penalty and giving Thomas his marching orders. Half-time substitute Bentley Alcantara made no mistake in tucking home the penalty.

With the wind in their sails, Villa hit the woodwork on two occasions, both coming within three minutes.

But proceedings turned sour in injury-time. A rash challenge as Bovey retreated led to a retaliation, and in mere moments both teams were at each others’ throats. As the scramble subsided, the referee brandished a red card in the direction of both Alcantara and Bovey’s Neil Last for their parts in the bedlam.

The subsequent free-kick was bound for the top corner until diving goalkeeper Rhys Williams produced a breathtaking fingertip save to keep the Bovey lead intact.

‘I’m so happy and so proud of the boys,’ Bovey boss Tony Radford said with a grin. 

‘We were 10 men for 40 minutes then went nine against 10 for the last couple. We went into half-time 2-0 up and I told the lads that was up there with my favourite performances of the season. Away from home, against a very good side who don’t often lose here and we dominated. 

‘Second halves are always difficult – it was windy, tough and we had a man sent off. I’m super proud. Our ‘keeper probably had two saves to make, and that says a hell of a lot about our outfield players – and our ‘keeper too – but it says a lot about our organisation.

‘Josh [Haynes] has been with us for a while now and not been scoring too much but I told him to relax because they’ll come, and he went and scored two goals and won us the game. I’m happy for him because I know it was getting to him.

‘The boys in midfield – Neil Last, Dan Griffiths and young Kelson Pollard – were also tremendous today. I’m super happy.’