Ilfracombe Town put in arguably their poorest performance of the season and were punished by a ruthless Bishop Sutton, who ran away with a 4-1 win.

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Combe travelled with seven first team regulars missing. including experienced players such as James Mayne, Shaun Lewis and Jon Vooght, but manager Ross Middleton was not using that as an excuse.

“Having players missing is always an easy excuse, but that’s why you have a squad, to cope with these situations,” he said. “Regardless of who was or wasn’t there on Saturday, that was one of the poorest performances I’ve ever seen as a Combe player or manager.

“Don’t get me wrong Sutton are a very good team, they’ve only lost one game and I’ll be very surprised if they don’t finish in the top five or six at least. They taught us a lesson in how to pass and move, but we didn’t half make it easy for them, our communication was awful, we were chasing shadows for the first 30 minutes.”

Sutton started far the brighter of the teams, but luckily Combe keeper Steve Oliver was in fine form and in the early exchanges made a number of fine saves to keep them in the match. Sutton finally made the breakthrough after 20 minutes with a close range finish and it didn’t take long before they were 2-0 up, this time from a corner.

After 30minutes Combe finally started to react and after a reshuffle in shape they started to look more solid. They got the goal they needed just before half time when a cross field pass was hit to Edd Yeo who muscled the defender and set Billy Tucker on his way to chip the keeper with a brilliant finish from the edge of the box.

Going down the slope in the second half Combe looked the brighter and started to play their possession game and get balls into the box, but they couldn’t find the equaliser and just as Sutton looked to have lost their way they scored a breakaway goal.

It seemed to kill Combe’s belief and chances as the shape went to pieces again. They never gave up, but always looked more likely to concede and Sutton did manage another late strike to make it a convincing 4-1 victory.

“‘We shot ourselves in the foot so early in the game, we didn’t do anywhere near enough, we deserved nothing today,” said Middleton.

“I’ve got lads coming back into the squad for Saturday and I’ll have to make decisions on who will miss out. It will be tough, but everyone’s had a chance now and if you’ve not done enough you’ll have to sit it out and wait for your chance again.

“If we’d been winning people would be keeping their places, but the fact is we haven’t, so I’ll be looking at how we can change that. I’m not in this for the jolly. I take losses personally and I want to be winning games sooner rather than later.”

l BARNSTAPLE were also on the wrong end of four goals away to an on-form Wells City.

Manager Dave Griffiths put much of the 4-0 defeat down to naivety by his young players, many of whom are still learning their Western League trade.

But there was also that feeling that when you are at the bottom nothing seemed to go for you, he said. They had played some good stuff, but had not been able to test the Wells substitute keeper.

Even when they lost their regular keeper with injury, Wells were able to bring on their manager Ray Johnson, a former professional keeper with Bristol City!

Wells were ahead after 11 minutes with a ball that could have come off a hand into the path of Dan Hunt, who headed home

Barnstaple were forced to chase the game, but could not make their chances count while Wells punished defensive mistakes to go 2-0 up at the break and add two more in the second half.

“If the lads give 100 per cent that is all I can ask,” said Griffiths. “There may be a minor reshuffle for Saturday, we will see what happens in the week.”

Barnstaple are at home to Wellington this Saturday in the FA Vase4.

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