Ilfracombe run ended at Bitton

Joseph Bulmer

Ilfracombe’s recent run of good results came to a halt with a 2-0 defeat at high flying Bitton on Saturday.

Manager Barry Yeo reverted to 4-4-2, bringing in Neil Bettiss for the injured Craig Allen. Mike Heddon was recalled into the centre of midfield and Shaun Lewis was back up front, in place of Ryan Turner and Leon Taswell respectively.

Combe started well and looked the brighter of the two teams in the early stages, but they failed to create any clear openings.

Bitton where not so wasteful and took the lead on 20 minutes, with their first real attack of the game, when a deflected long range shot wrong-footing Steve Oliver in goal.

After the goal Combe struggled to find the passing rhythm which has served them so well over recent games. Their best chance of an equaliser was from a set piece as Bettiss and Rossiter both had chances, but it was Bitton struck again just before half time.

A free kick was headed clear, but as the Combe defence tried to push up, Bitton’s experienced striker Mark Salter timed his run to perfection and was never going to miss a free header at the far post. It was a killer blow for Combe as the last touch of the first half.

Both teams created chances in an open second half, but Bitton had greater control of the game and could have extended their lead but for a great free kick save from Steve Oliver and some astute defending from James Mayne.

A change of formation midway through the second half saw Combe more comfortable. Lewis looked dangerous on the right and cut the ball back for their best chance of the game, but Rossiter could not get the connection he wanted on a bobbly surface and blasted over the bar.

Combe continued to huff and puff but could not get the ball in the net.

There could have been more goals as both sides had chances in the closing stages, but neither was able to make them count.