Battling Barum beat the drop

Joseph Bulmer

HAVING toyed with relegation for much of the season, a 4-0 win against Melksham Town on Saturday has ensured Western League Premier Division football for Barnstaple Town next season. Barum could ill afford to hand three points to a Wiltshire side struggli

HAVING toyed with relegation for much of the season, a 4-0 win against Melksham Town on Saturday has ensured Western League Premier Division football for Barnstaple Town next season.

Barum could ill afford to hand three points to a Wiltshire side struggling to stay afloat in the top flight themselves; and they put in a fine performance at Mill Road to avoid the drop with two games still to play.

Town broke the deadlock when top scorer Stan Paxton scored his 11th league goal of the season deep into first-half injury time.

The goal sparked a flood of chances for the hosts who started the second half on a mission.

The second came mid-way through the half, on loan Truro City winger Eugenio Da Veiga heading home a Matt Deakin cross.

Ryan Turner made it three with a well-timed volley and captain Shane Tolley kept his nerve to skilfully dink the ball into an empty net after the Melksham keeper had saved well from Turner.

The win moved Barnstaple into 13th place in the table on 42 points, already surpassing last year's final tally of 39; and manager Owen Pickard will take the positives from an improvement in his side's goal ratio, which currently stands at minus-eight compared with last year's disappointing finish of minus-33.

Barnstaple were set to play at Bishop Sutton last night (Tuesday) and will finish this season's campaign at Hallen on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Bideford will have to sweat it out to see whether they'll be crowned Western League champions this season.

The Robins made it three wins from their last three with a 3-0 win at bottom side Calne Town on Saturday.

Darren Hawkings hit another free-kick to open the scoring before prolific youngster Ashley Yeoman hit a brace of goals to bring his tally to 12 strikes in just 15 games since his switch from Torquay United in February.

But there's still work to be done this season and the three points in Saturday's final league outing at struggling Corsham Town are a must. Second placed Willand Rovers are still chomping at Bideford's heels and have five games to play between now and the end of the month.

Assuming Bideford win at Corsham, Willand will have to win all five to make up a 15-point deficit and score enough goals to overcome an inferior goal difference. But without a league defeat since October, watching Rovers' run-in from afar will be a nail-biting experience for the Robins.

Ilfracombe Town guaranteed a top three finish with a midweek home win against Brislington and a draw at Longwell Green Sports on Saturday.

The Bluebirds had Leon Tawsell to thank for a double strike at the end of a fairly stale encounter at Marlborough Park on Thursday night.

Taswell hit twice in the last 15 minutes of the match to bring his tally of league goals to seven this season.

On Saturday, Robbie Gough scored a second-half equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Longwell.

With their travelling done - and at least third place assured - 'Combe will be able to enjoy two games of football at home, starting tomorrow night with the visit of Wellington.

Barry Yeo and his boys have played well to better last year's 14th-place finish and will sign off a first-class season in front of their fans on Saturday against Larkhall Athletic.

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