Frustrating stalemate in Somerset

ILFRACOMBE Town returned from Somerset with a point in a frustrating afternoon of football in the Toolstation Western League on Saturday.

After taking an early lead inside the first 10 minutes, opponents Street appeared content to shut up shop and defend their one-goal advantage for 80 minutes.

Goalkeeper Steve Oliver failed to come out and collect a free-kick lofted into the his six yard box and when Karl Baggaley’s headed clearance struck centre-back partner James Mayne, Tom Clifford-Jones was able to bundle in the loose ball.

The hosts got everyone behind the ball and attempted the slow the tempo of the game down as the Bluebirds enjoyed the lion’s share of possession without finding any real cutting edge.

The reply came early in the second half when Mike Hedden equalised after finding himself in the clear with only the keeper to beat.

The midfielder kept his head in a bobbly one-on-one situation to calmly slot past the keeper with his left foot into the bottom corner.

‘Combe set up camp in the Street half of the pitch but lacked the final quality needed.

Substitute Neil Bettis – on for Baggaley after returning from suspension – had the best chance of the half but was unfortunate to see his header well saved by keeper Nathan Whatley.

Street looked dangerous on the counter and they would have nicked all three points at the death were it not for the expert reactions of Oliver, who will be unavailable until December after taking a month out to go travelling in Australia.

Oliver will be replaced by 19-year-old keeper Rob Holmes, who will be following in his dad Ian’s footsteps when he dons the gloves for ‘Combe for the next month.

He’ll make his debut in the home game against Welton Rovers on Saturday.

Ilfracombe are at home to Bovey Tracey in round two of the Devon St Luke’s Bowl on Tuesday night.

Barnstaple are back in action at the weekend with a trip to mid-table Bristol Manor Farm.