Ilfracombe bag third win in a row to ensure premier survival
PUBLISHED: 15:37 30 April 2014 | UPDATED: 15:37 30 April 2014
Ilfracombe Town 3-1 Hallen
ILFRACOMBE Town secured their Toolstation Western League Premier division status for another season with a 3-1 win over Hallen on Tuesday night.
Combe went into the game knowing that one win from their last three matches would make absolutely sure of their survival after a difficult season, and were able to make it three league wins in a row for the first time all season.
The Bluebirds were boosted by the availability of Bideford pair Kev Squires and Stephen Reed for Tuesday’s visit of Hallen, and flew out of the traps in the early stages.
The visiting goalkeeper made a string of good saves to deny Mark Clunie, Steve Holland and James Mayne in the opening 10 minutes, but Combe eventually found the breakthrough when a Reed freekick was headed in by Squires.
10 minutes later the lead was doubled when Stan Paxton got beyond the last defender down the right and whipped the ball in for Squires to turn home his second of the night.
Ilfracombe ‘keeper Kurtis Parkin had had very little to do in the opening 45 minutes, but was kicking the ball out of his net almost straight from the kick-off in the second period.
The Ilfracombe defence split wide open, allowing the visiting striker through on goal before scuffing his shot through the hands of Parkin.
It was not the start to the second half that Ross Middleton’s men had envisaged, but they quickly re-found their composure and created a number of chances, but could not put the game to bed.
Things were finally settled in the 85th minute, when Clunie unleashed a terrific strike from 25 yards out to emphatically ease the nerves around Marlborough Park.
“I’m absolutely buzzing and feeling proud as punch of all the lads,” said Ilfracombe manager Middleton. “They’ve kept going and found form when we really needed it.
“The main feeling now is jut pride that the lads kept going because it has been the craziest season I’ve ever known. The things that have gone against us have been unheard of.
“Winning on Tuesday means we can relax and enjoy the last two games.
“The players have stuck with what we believed were the right things and now we’ve got the rewards. I’m just delighted for them.”
Ilfracombe can now look forward to their final home game of the season against Odd Down on Saturday, before finishing their season at Hengrove Athletic on Bank Holiday Monday.