Torquay heading straight back to A Division after five-wicket defeat against Exmouth

Elliot Moses, who top scored in a losing cause for Torquay against Exmouth

TORQUAY are heading back to the A Division after just one season back in the top flight after losing by five wickets at home to Exmouth.

George Allen’s side were clinging on by their fingertips going into the penultimate game of the season as they were 14 points adrift of safety.

If fellow strugglers Sandford pulled off a win over outgoing champions Sidmouth, it would be curtains for Torquay if they lost to Exmouth.

Exmouth's David Lye - hit the winning runs against Torquay  | Photo: Gerry HuntSandford’s 46-run win over Sidmouth meant it was the end of the line for Torquay, whose recent Premier history has been a chequered one.

Torquay were relegated from the top flight in 2009, promoted as unbeaten A Division champions in 2011, just stayed up in 2012, were champions in 2015, got relegated in 2017 and promoted straight back as A Division runners-up in 2018.

Tom Drake top scored on 73 in Torquay’s 50-over total of 230 for seven. Elliot Moses made 37 and Josh Hunt made an uber-patient 48 off 70 balls after going in at 99 for five.

Alex Craib (2-34) and David Lye (0-22) bowled 20 cheap overs between them for Exmouth. Ben Ellis had three wickets for 68 runs.

Ellis was the Exmouth anchorman in a run chase that ended in the 46th over when Lye took two runs off the occasional spin bowling of Torquay captain George Allen.

Ellis went in at 13 for one after the early demise of Miles Lenygon and made 98 in even time to get Exmouth up to 171 for three.

A stand of 127 with Finlay Marks (41) set the tone for the chase, leaving Lye (26no) and George Greenway (24) to administer the last rites.

Exmouth were effectively safe from relegation going into the game, which was not what many Devon League watchers expected following a stream of mid-winter departures from the Maer Ground.

For Andy Buzza, the Exmouth captain, it was the first part of his mission accomplished.

“We had a clear target at the start of the season to finish the same if not better than last season (5th), which it looks like we are going to achieve,” said Buzza.

“Many saw the ‘exodus’ as a bad thing:  think this season shows otherwise. 

“We have started to build a younger team for the future with players who truly want to represent the club on and off the field for all the right reasons.

“I feel 2019 will always be the year that things started to change at Exmouth CC and I'm very proud to be a part of that.”