Barnstaple Town were without a game in Evo-Stik Division One South on Saturday, providing manager Aaron Harper-Penman with a welcome opportunity to take stock.

Barum have had a busy schedule since Harper-Penman took over on December 17, playing four games in 10 days from December 22.

The rest was certainly well-earned. The final game of the run came on New Year’s Day where Barum earned a point at Street. The visitors had held onto a 1-0 lead from the 12th minute before a late equaliser forced them to settle for a point.

Harper-Penman said: “It would have been nice to carry forward after a good performance, but having the weekend off after a busy schedule was a godsend really.

“We had a few carrying knocks who were playing through the pain barrier on New Year’s Day, so it was nice to be able to give them a bit of a rest.

“I 100 per cent would have taken a point before the game. A lot of people wouldn’t have given us much hope going up there and getting a point. On another day we could have nicked all three.

“What we had was a plan to be hard to break down and we managed to get an early lead and tried to protect it.

“To be honest a point is a great point there. The boys put a massive shift in, especially with knocks and missing a couple of centre backs.”

Next up for Barnstaple is a trip to Bristol Manor Farm on Saturday, and Harper-Penman is looking for more improvement from a side that has been bolstered over the break.

Steve Oliver is back for another spell at Barum. Oliver played for Barnstaple in their first season in the Southern League before signing for Bideford. He’s been getting games at Bridgwater Town since he last featured for Bideford in November.

Brodie Montague has also committed to the Division One South club, as has Scott Sharp.

“Game by game we are getting better,” said Harper-Penman.

“The lads are getting used to me and it’s been a learning curve for them and me.

“Now they’re getting used to how I want to play and what I expect. There are a few new faces, and now we’re the other side of Christmas we’ve got healthy numbers and we need that to push on.

“Bristol Manor Farm are a good side with good players, and they play their pitch well. It’s going to be tough but every game we have from now on will be.”