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North Devon Football League preview: Senior Division

By NDJMark  |  Posted: August 22, 2013

Prolific striker Connor Nash is staying with Barnstaple FC in the North Devon League Senior Division

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PARK UNITED are expected to make a strong challenge for the Senior Division title.

Steve Skinner and Rob Guppy have taken over as joint managers after Pete Yarde stepped down at the end of last season.

After improving their squad over the summer, the Bideford club have a group of players with experience in the Toolstation Western League and Carlsberg South West Peninsula League.

They have signed Ricky Marinaro, the former Barnstaple Town midfielder; Rikki Kelly and Ben Cobbett from Appledore; and Jason Pontin from Braunton.

Goalkeeper James Greenleaf will be at university but they have replaced him with Brad Westcott, from last season’s Bideford under-16 team. Charlie Allman is also stepping up from youth football with the Robins.

During pre-season Park have drawn with Torridgeside, the Premier Division champions, and beaten Shebbear United and Shamwickshire Rovers.

Skinner is demanding greater consistency from a team who finished fourth and won the Braunton Cup.

“If we can’t get promoted with this lot I think it’s time to pack it in,” he said.

“You can’t stuff a team 10-0 one week and then next week lose a game because you don’t really fancy it.

“When it’s a cold, wet day away to North Molton it’s, ‘How much do you want it?’

Braunton are optimistic they can challenge for the title under Dave Loder, the former Wrey Arms manager, who has taken over from long-serving boss Ashley Lowe.

With the first team set to apply for the Peninsula League, the reserves can aim for promotion to the Premier Division for the first time.

Luke Arkless, the former Hartland and Clovelly striker, has signed for them.

An excellent youth set-up means the club has strength in depth with teams in all four divisions of the league. On Saturday they used 67 different players during four friendlies.

“If I get the squad I want we’ll be there or thereabouts,” said Loder.

On Wednesday, Braunton face a Barnstaple FC side who are fancied to challenge for a third successive promotion.

They have kept hold of Connor Nash who has hit 127 goals in two seasons, twice finishing as the league’s top scorer.

Marcus Mahoney has signed from Barnstaple AAC having previously scored goals in the Senior Division with Bratton Fleming.

Barnstaple start with a difficult away fixture at Putford who were relegated from the Premier Division last year and are looking to bounce back under new manager Wayne Pomeroy.

After finishing strongly last term, Woolsery will be optimistic their young side can improve on fifth place. Matt Lamont, from Park, and Rob Crump, from Northam Lions, have returned to the club.

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