‘Schoolboy defending’ disappoints Ilfracombe boss Middleton

15:43 17 February 2014

Ilfracombe Town player/manager Ross Middleton

Ilfracombe Town player/manager Ross Middleton

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Ilfracombe Town 1-2 Winterbourne United

ILFRACOMBE failed to capitalise on the chance to finally play some football on Saturday as they suffered a 2-1 defeat at home to Winterbourne United.

The ground staff at Marlborough Park did a fine job of getting the game on and despite heavy conditions towards the end of the game, the pitch held out well throughout.

Combe played the final half an hour with a two man advantage, but that still wasn’t enough as they looked for a way back into the game.

Things looked goof for the home side at the beginning of the afternoon, with the sun shining and new signing Dejan Maric amongst the subs. Edd Yeo was back in the attack and Craig Allan was available after Bridgwater’s game was postponed.

The Bluebirds hit the ground running, putting Winterbourne under pressure from the off.

Josh Heafield and Steve Holland were a constant threat breaking down the left hand side at every opportunity and Stan Paxton and Edd Yeo were winning everything up front.

And before long, Winterbourne right back Ryan Dunn was shown a straight red card for lashing out at Kane Dryden.

Combe pressed home their advantage, but were close to falling behind when Ashley Knight broke away only to be denied by a fine last-ditch challenge from Craig Allen.

Five minutes before the break, the home side finally found the breakthrough they’d been looking for and it was a goal worth the wait.

Holland was set free by Heafield and he raced from the half way line, twisting and turning past defenders, before chipping the keeper with a fine finish from 20 yards.

Combe looked good for their lead, but yet again they were to hit the self destruct button just moments later.

Within five minutes the 10 men were level after a break down the right. The lone striker found space to flick the ball past Parkin from a cross which should have been cleared.

The Bluebirds then had two penalty claims turned down in a matter of seconds. Yeo appeared to be brought down twice by the visiting keeper in quick succession, but both appeals were waved away.

And to make matters worse, Winterbourne took the lead right on the brink of half time.

A hopeful ball forward from defence was left alone by home captain James Mayne, and striker Ashley Knight raced clear and finished well to take advantage.

Ilfracombe tried to get back into the game in the second half, and Steve Holland always looked the most likely, hitting the post with a clever, curling effort.

Another visiting defender was then given his marching orders for kicking out at Dryden, as Sam Vile let his emotions get the better of him and saw red.

Ilfracombe continued to press, but Winterbourne sat deep and defended well to keep them at bay.

“I’m very disappointed with a few individual performances today, it’s a big opportunity lost,” said Ilfracombe player/manager Ross Middleton.

“We lacked a bit of quality in the final third, the lads were so desperate to win we were snatching at everything rather than keeping our heads, applying pressure and being confident we’d take our chance when it came.

“We need to get back to keeping clean sheets. The defending for the two goals was school boy at best - we switched off for both goals at a time when we had them under constant pressure.

“You can’t allow yourselves to let up, we gave them something to cling on to and that was unacceptable.”

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