TORQUAY’S hopes of Premier Division survival were shattered by a six-wicket defeat at North Devon.
Torquay needed eight points from the game to be sure of staying up and were always in danger after being bowled out for 138, which left them six short.
North Devon lost four wickets knocking off the runs – two more points earned – which left Torquay sweating on the outcomes of Sidmouth v Plymouth and Paignton v Exeter.
Torquay were in trouble once Plymouth beat Sidmouth to move out of the bottom two.
It didn’t matter what happened at Paignton from them on as one of the combatants was bound to move past Torquay and out of the bottom two. Even a tie wouldn’t have saved them.
Two years ago Torquay were celebrating their first Premier title since 1997. Little did they realise how quickly fortunes can change…
Torquay won more games than one of the sides who finished ahead of them, but lost 20 points mid-season for cancelling a 2nd XI game but playing a third team game the same day.
Add the 20 points back and Torquay would have finished sixth, comfortably clear of the drop spots.
The consequences of the points deduction were not lost on Torquay captain Justin Yau, who said: “It's been a very tough season and the pivotal point was losing 20 points, which blew the wind out of our sails.
“We only managed one win after that, were always playing catch-up and it turned out to be too big a deficit to overturn.
“It's a shame how the chain of events led to our relegation and there's lots to now consider as a club as we try to move forward next year.
“Hopefully we can find the right strategy to bounce back and come back next season.
“I am still extremely proud of the efforts from the lads who gave everything week after week.”
Nick Watkin made 27 and Cody Gertze 22 in Torquay’s total of 138 all out.
There were three wickets each for Jack Popham and Steffan James and two for Josh King.
Dan Bowser (44) and Tom Popham (17) gave North Devon a 63-run start before Matt Petherbridge (2-21) accounted for both of them.
Callum Hotham (20) and Jamie Overton (25) took North Dveon most of the rest of the way.