Ilfracombe Town 2-0 Willand Rovers
Ilfracombe Town finally ended their Toolstation Western league Premier losing streak with a 2-0 victory over Willand Rovers on Tuesday evening.
The Bluebirds moved out of the bottom two by ending their run of eight matches without a point against a team in Willand with promotion hopes this term.
Willand started the brighter of the two teams putting Combe under a lot of pressure for the first 20 minutes, but the visitors failed to manufacture any guilt-edged opportunities.
After riding out the initial pressure, Combe started to find their feet with Mark Clunie, Kane Dryden and home debutant Matt Melhuish seeing more of the ball in midfield.
Edd Yeo put in a man of the match performance on Saturday and was continuing to look dangerous in this game when he controlled the ball and turned inside the Willand half before gliding past two defenders and laying the ball into the path of the onrushing Mark Clunie, who rifled the ball home from a tight angle for Ilfracombe’s first goal in more than three hours of football.
10 minutes later Yeo was at it again, and after the initial shot from Steve Holland was blocked he outmuscled a defender to re-gain possession and lay the ball back to Clunie, who smashed home from the edge of the 18 yard box for his seventh of the season.
Willand started to go long more frequently, and just before half time the tactic almost came off when a shot was fluffed wide from 12 yards.
The second half became scrappy as the referee started going to his pocket more often, which always seemed likely to end in someone being sent off.
In the end it was a Willand player who lost his cool. His first challenge was clumsy at best and the second wasn’t much better as Combe’s task was made a little easier midway through the half.
In that time Combe had fashioned a few chances. Yeo would have expected to do better with an attempted lob and Melhuish was unlucky when a cross from Holland was just a couple of inches out of his reach.
Willand still posed a threat themselves, though, and Combe had their excellent ‘keeper Kurtis Parkin to thank on more than one occasion for maintaining their clean sheet.
The one time he was beaten, Clunie managed to get himself back to clear off his own goal line and keep Willand out.
“A win’s been coming,” said Ilfracombe manager Ross Middelton. “I’m delighted for the lads because they deserve it. We’ve been playing really well but not getting the results and that can be disheartening for players, but everyone has stuck together and kept believing in what we’re doing.
“It’s crucial we now continue to perform like we have. We’ve made ourselves a lot harder to beat and with the quality we have breaking forward we’ll get goals.”
Middleton was also keen to praise the impact of new arrivals Murrell and Melhuish.
“Louis and Matt have been the boost the squad needed,” he said. “Their attitude has been spot on and they’ve made it clear they’ve joined to help the rest of the squad push up the league.
“We’ve got a lot of games to get through so it’s great that they’ve hit the ground running.”