Barnstaple Town suffered defeat in their return to action in Evo-Stik Division One South on Saturday.

Barum were beaten 4-1 at Bristol Manor Farm in their first game since New Year’s Day.

There were starts for new signings Steve Oliver and Sol Wheatley – who is available for next six weeks. There was a place on the bench for striker Saddam ‘Tornado’ Bello.

The visitors were 1-0 down inside four minutes when Lloyd Mills got on the end of a Jordan Metters free kick to head past Oliver.

It stayed that way until half time, but Barnstaple had their chances and came close to equalising midway through the half. Jack Rice Lethaby hit the crossbar with a curling shot.

Manor Farm extended their lead seven minutes after the break through Troy Simpson. The striker slotted a low shot past Oliver on 65 minutes to make it 3-0 to the hosts.

Barnstaple got a deserved goal with 15 minutes remaining. Bello, who had only been on the pitch for a matter of seconds, fired past keeper Ben John after Geroge Nancekivell had flicked the ball on.

But Manor Farm replied almost immediately through Owen Howe, who fired in from the edge of the box three minutes later.

Barnstaple Town’s assistant manager Josh Pearce said mistakes cost the visitors on the day.

“We were creating chances, we hit the bar, and it’s just not dropping for us,” said Pearce.

“Our luck just isn’t in on that other side of the pitch and we’re making silly mistakes at the other end.

“It was disappointing to concede in the first two minutes because the game plan has gone straight away, but we have competed after that. We created lots of chances and went in at 1-0 feeling hard done by, then there were the mistakes in the second half.

“Not taking anything away from them, they played their pitch well. Their front three caused us problems, their movement was good but from my point of view there were mistakes we can change.”

Barnstaple are back at home this Saturday against Thatcham Town, and although some of the results haven’t looked good on paper, Pearce feels the side is close to getting things right.

“We feel like we’re getting close to putting a run together,” he said.

“We feel we can change things and start picking up points and the fans need to believe we can change things too. The results may not show that yet, but we are in these games and we’re very close to putting it all together.

“The next five games are massive and it’s where we need to put everything together.”