Champagne moment was worth the wait

Joseph Bulmer

Ilfracombe win first ever silverware as a Western League club

IF the champagne had been on ice, it would have been a fair vintage by the time it was cracked open to celebrate Ilfracombe Town’s first ever cup final win on Saturday.

As a Western League club, the Bluebirds’ wait for silverware has been a long one.

So when the cork was finally popped after a memorable 3-1 Les Phillips Cup win against Cadbury Heath, victory tasted sweeter than ever.

After an uncertain start at host ground Wells City, Ilfracombe began to find their feet midway through the half, Ross Middleton hitting the bar from 25 yards.

Heath had looked dangerous pumping balls up to front man Toby Colbourne but the tables were definitely beginning to turn by the time Steve Holland missed a chance to open the scoring with just goalkeeper Simon Crawford to beat.

Middleton had a free-kick parried away by the keeper and Leon Taswell stayed on his feet but was unlucky not to have won a penalty after being bundled off the ball by Crawford.

Heath had two penalty shouts of their own waved away when Matt Downing challenged Sasha Tong in the box.

But the breakthrough finally came for ‘Combe when Shaun Lewis smashed home a lose ball from five yards.

After the break, it was the Division One side who started strongest and scored a deserved equaliser when Colbourne tapped home from close range.

Five minutes later, Ilfracombe were back on top when Lewis raced onto Steve Oliver’s long goal kick and executed an exquisite lob over Crawford.

Oliver denied Colbourne a second from seven yards with a fingertip save onto the crossbar.

But with 10 minutes to play, substitute Mike Hedden played in Steve Holland who wrapped up the win when he cut in from the right and put a left foot effort beyond Crawford.

“We’ve made history,” said proud manager Barry Yeo.

“This is something we’ve worked extremely hard over the last few seasons and it’s a fantastic achievement for everyone involved with the club.

“You could see what it meant to everyone at the final whistle.

“I’ve got a fantastic bunch of players who will run through brick walls for each other.

“Every year we go away together at the end of the season and talk about what could have happened but this year we’ll be able to go away and really enjoy it.

“We’ve won a cup and finished third in the league for the second season in a row. The club has proved it can be consistent and can progress.”