Downton on Course for 15-Year Best

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Downton are on course to register their best league finish in more than fifteen years.

Last Saturday’s 4-0 away win at New Milton Town was their seventh on the spin and keeps them seventh in the Sydenhams Football League (Wessex) Premier Division table.

The top flight newcomers have now lost just once in thirteen league and cup matches. Ironically, having initially struggled away from home, Jeff Softley’s side have won their last four away games on the bounce.

Danny Finnigan opened their account on Saturday before goals by Josh Thomas and Nic Turpin (2) wrapped up another three points

“The lads have had a great first half of the season,” said manager Softley. “But it’s up to them to keep the run going and really make it a season to remember.”

Their 3-2 defeat at Barnstaple Town on Saturday, November 19th, remains Downton’s only defeat since mid-October.

“Winning becomes a habit,” added Softley, whose charges have Wessex League Cup and Wiltshire Senior Cup quarter-finals to look forward to in the new year.

“We’ve got some tough games ahead of us, but the dressing room is good, the spirit is there and the lads are enjoying their football.”

The Robins host sixth-placed Hamworthy United on December 27th ahead of a trip to Western Way on January 3rd to take on league leaders Bemerton Heath Harlequins.”

“Every game’s a big game for us at the moment,” said Softley, whose side will break into the top six should they defeat Hamworthy.

“The lads have set the standards so it’s up to them to keep achieving the results they have just lately. It’d be great to register a best ever Premier Division finish but it won’t be easy.”

Downton’s highest Premier Division finish in recent years was eighth in 1996/97 when they amassed sixty-one points.

At the half-way stage in the campaign, they have thirty-seven from twenty-one games – not a bad return considering they had posted just five from a possible twenty-one on their immediate return to the top flight.

The Robins have not failed to score in one of their thirty league and cup matches this season, netting a total of seventy-one goals.

Turpin’s brace at the weekend took his personal tally to twenty for the season while strike partner Declan McGregor already has fifteen under his belt.

Vinnie Rusher, who had a hand in all four goals against New Milton, has been on target eight times, while Finnigan’s opener on Saturday took his total to seven.

Fourteen different players have found the net so far this term, which has delighted the Robins boss.

“We’ve got goals in us all over the park,” added Softley. “We always knew we had. Turps keeps putting them away and to have scored twenty before Christmas is a great achievement, but he’ll be the first to acknowledge how much work Dec and the others have put in.

“It’s been a learning curve adjusting to the Premier Division. You make a mistake and you get punished and that can cost you three points – that wasn’t always the case in Division One.

“But we’re starting to keep clean sheets too. In Josh Thomas and Ben Smith we’ve got what must be one of the best central defensive partnerships in the division.

“We’ve got competition for places and the club’s buzzing right now.”

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About Author

Former Swansea City and Kettering Town defender who has been managing the likes of Kettering Town u18s, Rothwell Town, Desborough Town and Wellingborough Town for 33 years as well as being technical director at AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Began in non-League journalism as editor of Team Talk magazine back in the early 1990s and then as editor of Non-League Daily, joining Pitchero to set up Pitchero Non-League in January 2011. Also works for the National League.

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