Barnstaple Town’s first home match of 2019 ended in defeat this afternoon (Saturday).

Barnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBarnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

Barum were beaten 2-1 by Thatcham Town at Mill Road, a result that keeps them at the bottom of the table.

Things had started well for Aaron Harper-Penman's side. Jack Langford had given them the lead with a finish from close-range at the end of a well-worked move after just nine minutes.

Jack Alexander equalised for Thatcham three minutes before the break, and the visitors went ahead just after the hour mark when Shane Cooper-Clarke converted a penalty.

Despite the loss there were more encouraging signs for Barnstaple, who worked hard in tough conditions. However, their result was made worse by wins for fellow strugglers Mangotsfield United and Fleet Town.

Barnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBarnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

The Barnstaple manager installed himself in the starting line-up alongside Brodie Montague at the back, and there was a start for Scott Sharp, appearing for Barnstaple for the first time since the end of the 16/17 season.

The hosts got off the mark inside 10 minutes, partly thanks to some excellent work from Steve Holland and partly down to some over-commitment from Thatcham keeper Chris Rackley.

Rackley came 40 yards to make a clearance, only for Holland to collect the ball and surge down the left wing as the keeper backpedalled. Holland's cross to the back post was met by Jed Harper-Penman, and although Rackley was able to cut out the effort, it fell straight to Langford, who applied the finish from close range.

From there on in Barnstaple's job was to be tough to break down, and they were just that for most of the opening period, albeit helped by a muddy pitch that made it difficult for either side to create too many chances.

Barnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBarnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

The visitors began to find their footing in the closing stages though and should have scored when a Stuart Cameron clearance went straight to the feet of Adam Kelly inside the box. Somehow the midfielder fired over the bar.

Thatcham did eventually equalise a few minutes later. Kelly made amends for his miss with a well-directed free kick from the right flank which Alexander was able to meet at the back post to head past Steve Oliver.

The hosts had a couple of half chances after the break but were unable to work Rackley. Jack Langford headed off target from a Reed corner.

The turning point came on the hour when Sol Wheatley brought down James Tennant just inside the penalty area. Referee Phil Eddie pointed to the spot, and Cooper-Clarke made sure Oliver didn't have much of a chance of saving the spot-kick, blasting it high down the middle as the Barnstaple goalkeeper dived to his left.

Barnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBarnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

Barnstaple had sights at goal, but were unable to haul themselves level again. Sharp dragged a shot wide with 20 minutes remaining and 10 minutes later Will Nicholls saw a header go off target when he got on the end of a deep cross from Wheatley.

Barnstaple Town: Oliver, Wheatley, Reed, Cameron, Montague, A Harper-Penman (Cann 75), J Harper-Penman, Jenkins, Langford, Sharp (Nicholls 78), Holland (Marsh 83). Subs not used: Glover, Humphreys.

Thatcham Town: Rackley, Stanley, Angell, Melledew, Miller, Cattell, Kelly, Alexander, Cooper-Clark (Beasley 90+1), Lynch, Tennant (Jeacock 79).Subs not used: Glover, Frank.

Attendance: 168.

Barnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBarnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

Barnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBarnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

Barnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBarnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

Barnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBarnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

Barnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBarnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

Barnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBarnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

Barnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBarnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

Barnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBarnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

Barnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBarnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

Barnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBarnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

Barnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBarnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart

Barnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt SmartBarnstaple Town v Thatcham Town in Evo-Stik Division One South. Picture: Matt Smart