A GROWING injury list is threatening to stifle any plans Ilfracombe Town have to climb out of the lower rungs of the Toolstation Western League Premier Division. After a cracking first season in the division last term, this year's challenge has failed to

A GROWING injury list is threatening to stifle any plans Ilfracombe Town have to climb out of the lower rungs of the Toolstation Western League Premier Division.After a cracking first season in the division last term, this year's challenge has failed to get out of first gear. And now, with just two wins from 17 so far, the Bluebird's resolute chirp is in danger of being reduced to a cheep as a succession of knocks look set to force a number of reserve team call-ups.Club physio Heather Wareing told the Gazette that back-to-back Saturday and Tuesday evening fixtures hadn't helped the cause."Players have been picking up strains and tears due to over use and are not being able to get the rest that they need," she said."The squad isn't large enough for players to give their injuries sufficient recuperation, and unfortunately, many are carrying injuries onto the pitch and making them worse."Steve Holland was a good example of that on Saturday as he was already injured when we kicked off."Also currently on the treatment table are Jon Vooght, Andy Stevens, Karl Baggaley, Scott Huxtable and James Mayne. Also recovering from serious illness is player manager Barry Yeo.On Saturday, an under-strength 'Combe bravely batted to a 2-0 defeat at home to league-leaders Bitton.With Darren Parrish unavailable and Lee Francis suspended, the squad was already thin on the ground. And minutes into the game, Karl Baggaley became the first of the day's casualties, limping off with a groin injury soon after the visitors volleyed home their first.Keeper Steve Oliver pulled off a number of good saves to give his side a shout at the points; but when a hamstring injury forced midfielder Steve Holland out of the action just before half-time, 'Combe were forced into making more changes.Bitton's second, a close-range header from a corner, came 10 minutes from time.And 'Combe's injury misery was completed on 90 minutes, when Scott Huxtable was forced to make an early trudge back to the dressing room.Ilfracombe are at home to Radstock Town on Saturday.*****************Bideford have struggled to find the net of late; but after smashing five away to Corsham on Saturday, they turned a psychological corner at the same time as turning a negative goal difference into a positive.Starting with an attacking trio of Ben Wood, Jamie Densham and Ellis Laight, Bideford started brightly and took the game to their hosts with large swathes of possession. They took a deserved lead after 15 minutes when great link up play between Nick Barker and Ben Wood set Ellis Laight free to score. The Robins continued to dominate the half, Wood breaking clear on 28 minutes only to be denied a goal through excellent one-on-one goalkeeping. The second finally came after 35 minutes, when Barker's corner was headed home by Densham.Minutes later, Sam Churchill latched onto Densham's neat through ball to make it 3-0.Full of confidence, Densham then set up Laight who ensured Bideford were four to the good heading into the dressing room at half time.Despite a Corsham consolation 10 minutes into the second half, Bideford continued to play with fire in their bellies and on 80 minutes, substitute Matt Andrew scored his second for the club, a powerful shot from distance.The result was just the tonic Bideford needed ahead of their second round FA Vase draw away to Brislington on Saturday.Striker Shaun Lewis is expected to return to the side after eight weeks out with an Achilles injury.A limited number of return coach tickets to the match are still available, priced £15 each. They can be bought from behind the bar at the Robins Nest, or by telephoning Racheal Beaman on 07832 199291The coach departs from The Pill, Bideford at approx 10.30am.*****************New Barnstaple manager Owen Pickard will be hoping to get his time at the club off to a winning start with a league fixture at Sherborne on Saturday.