SUNDAY LEAGUE: Angel secure Division Two title with Ayton win
Dan Jones' Angel Athletic side sealed the Division Two title with a 5-1 win against Ayton Reserves in the only game to survive the downpours this morning.
Despite the wind and driving rain, boss Jones and assistant Gary Thomas worked hard to get the pitch in a playable condition in order to give their side the chance to seal the title.
The home side enjoyed the bulk of the possession in the opening exchanges, but were unable to break through the stubborn Ayton rearguard.
Angel eventually found a way through when young right-back Josh Wallace galloped up the flank before cutting inside and guiding an effort into the bottom corner.
The hosts were left stunned 10 minutes later when an audacious attempt from near the halfway line by Liam Scott flew over Athletic keeper Scott Wardman and into the back of the net to level matters up at 1-1.
Angel were dealt another blow when they lost Ali Caw to injury shortly before the break, but they were soon back in front when Caw's replacement Dave Bell headed in from Benny Davis' ball into the box.
The hosts found their rhythm after the interval and were soon in command of the encounter.
Davis struck the post on two occasions when well-placed, but it was a case of third time lucky as he slotted in to make it 3-1 after beating the offside trap and firing in.
It was soon 4-1 as their fourth came in almost identical circumstances, Davis finding himself one-on-one with the Ayton keeper and slotting in.
Angel grabbed their fifth and final goal after 65 minutes, sub Bell grabbing his second after showing great anticipation, following up on Davis' shot and beating the keeper to the ball to fire in.
Jones introduced a front three of Danny I'Anson, Shaun Outhart and Josh Dolan, the latter catching the eye of the manager with his efforts in the final 25 minutes.
Midfielder Lloyd Henderson was named as Angel's man of the match, with veteran keeper Wardman also producing a number of smart saves.
A delighted Jones said: "I have to say a big thank you to all the lads and everyone who has pitched in this season, on and off the pitch.
"Me and Gary (Thomas) were up at the pitch early on trying to get the game on and the hard work paid off. We wanted to get the title wrapped up and I'm delighted that we've managed to do just that.
"We've got four league games left now and we want to try and break the 100-goal mark and try not to drop a point, that would be a great effort.
"The lads all seem to be enjoying their football, and that's what it's all about."
Jones insists his side aren't heading into the top flight simply to make up the numbers next season.
"I don't think Division One is a closed shop," added Jones.
"We played Newlands earlier in the season, went down to 10 men early on and certainly didn't look out of place.
"There's no reason why we can't go up and do well next season."
Ayton player-boss Steven Frederiksen singled out winger Richard Howes and central-midfielder Luke Dunn as his side's star men.
He said: "It was a good game and for 65 minutes it was anyone's game.
"Chances were even and play was good from both and we didn't deserve to be losing at half-time.
"Lloyd Henderson was the difference as the game went on, and we also had three players come off injured over 20 minutes, which threw our. balance off."