IVYBRIDGE Town clinched the Premier East Division championship of the South West Peninsula League with their 2-0 away win over Bishops Lydeard on Saturday.

The champions took a fifth minute lead with a shot from Bailey Mabin and wrapped up the victory when Chris Wright scored with an excellent free kick in the 86th minute.

This was the 24th win in 28 league matches for Ivybridge, who secured the title with four games to spare having dropped points only to Bovey Tracey (1-1 draw), Sidmouth Town (3-2 defeat), Stoke Gabriel & Torbay Police (1-1 draw) and Teignmouth (2-1 defeat) in a rampant season.

The latest success was even more impressive as it came without key defenders Scott Pocock and Jordan Powell, the former of whom has been present and instrumental in every other Ivybridge game in this crowning campaign.

Jacob Smelt took over the captaincy in the absence of Pocock as Ivybridge re-organised their defence with Smelt joining Josh Zimmerman, returning from injury, and Curtis Legrice in a three-man rearguard.

Ivybridge joint manager Lance Bailey explained: “The decision to award the captaincy to Jacob was a reward for the hard work he has put in over the season.”

The early goal for Ivybridge came as they made a bright start, but they did not have it all their own way as Bishops Lydeard battled back into the game.

“Bishops Lydeard worked hard and showed why they have not conceded many goals at home,” said Bailey.

“Although we created some chances, things were not quite going for us until we got the second goal with a great free kick from Chris Wright.”

Ivybridge have a blank day this Saturday (April 13) but then face a gruelling schedule of three home games in five days, starting with a return fixture against Bishops Lydeard on Tuesday, April 16. The match gets under way with a 7.45pm kick-off.

Then comes a clash against Okehampton Argyle on Thursday April 18 (7.30pm kick-off) and Ivybridge will complete their home fixtures with a visit from Crediton United on Saturday April 20 (3pm kick-off) when Peninsula League officials will be at Erme Valley for the presentation of the championship trophy.

The final league fixture of the season will be away to Okehampton at Simmons Park on Saturday, April 27. Kick-off is scheduled for 3pm.

Looking at that run of fixtures, Bailey said: “We have a bit of a rest next week, but then we will look to finish the season on a strong note. We might have secured the championship, but we still have our targets. We have a winning mentality and will not look to sit on our laurels.”

Following the completion of their league programme, Ivybridge will face the South West Peninsula League Premier West Division champions, who are likely to be St Austell or Liskeard Athletic, in the coveted Champions Bowl fixture at Cornish border side Launceston’s Pennygillam Way home on the evening of Wednesday, May 1.