Barnstaple Town gave Bristol Manor Farm a run for their money in their first home game of the Evo-Stik Division One South season this evening (Tuesday).
Barum were beaten 2-1 by Manor Farm, but pushed the visitors all the way with a battling performance.
Owen Howe’s penalty three mintues into the second half was ultimately the difference.
The visitors opened the scoring after eight minutes when Dean Stamp’s shot from a tight angle was deflected in.
James Dart equalised with a powerful header, and his effort brought Barum to life, producing a half of football that had the visitors rocked.
It looked like the writing was on the ball for Barnstaple when Stamp gave the visitors the lead in the eighth minute.
The striker and Barum goalkeeper Rob Holmes both went for a loose ball wide in the Barnstaple penalty area, with Stamp getting possession and firing off a shot which was deflected in off the recovering James Spence.
Barum were only behind for 10 minutes though. Dart met a Jack Jenkins corner with a powerful header at the near post to get the home side back on terms.
The goal rattled Manor Farm, who seemed unable to settle down for the remainder of the first half.
In comparison Barnstaple were organised, and utilised a game plan which saw Billy Hopcroft and Jack Langford utilising the space behind the defence well. The pair caused the Manor Farm defence plenty of problems in the first half.
A move between the two almost gave Barnstaple the lead 10 minutes before half-time. Hopcroft played Langford in down the channel for the winger to drive into the penalty area. His cutback was met by Ross Middleton, whose chipped effort glanced off the crossbar.
Five minutes later Hopcroft forced a save from keeper Ben John with a shot from the edge of the area.
That hard work was undone two minutes into the second half when Spence brought down Stamp in the penalty area with a glorified rugby tackle. Owen Howe stepped up to take the spot-kick given by referee Ciaran Barlow, and he smashed it down the middle of the goal.
Manor Farm continued to threaten into the second half, with Holmes forced into saves far more regularly.
Howe and Simpson both forced good saves from the Barnstaple keeper, and there were plenty of efforts that would have run through to him had it not been for some dogged defending from the Barnstaple backline.
Barnstaple continued to ask questions on the counter attack, and almost pinched an equaliser with three minutes remaining. Hopcroft charged into the penalty area and cut the ball back to the far post where it was met by Elliot Whitecross, but the substitute struck his effort at John.
Barnstaple Town: Holmes, Welch, Last, Dart, Spence, Radford, Jones (Whitecross 81), Middleton (Townsend 63), Langford (Crook 69), Jenkins, Hopcroft. Subs not used: Roach, Pinnick.
Bristol Manor Farm: John, Tovey, Robbins, Mills, Turner, Adams, Metters, Durrant, Stamp, Howe (Hemmings 88), Simpson. Subs not used: Kington, Manning, Groves, Lock.