Bluebirds pegged back twice in lively Toolstation encounter

ILFRACOMBE Town picked up a well-earned point in an entertaining Toolstation Western League Premier Division game at Bishop Sutton.

The Bluebirds gave as good as they got and twice took the lead in the 2-2 draw against the fourth-placed Bristol side.

In a strange start to the match, the North Devon side took the lead after a minute but couldn’t get any sort of grip on the game thereafter for the next 20 minutes-or-so.

The goal came almost instantly from kick-off, Ross Middleton’s corner finding James Mayne, who rose brilliantly to smash home the header.

Stunned Sutton fought back well and started to play the ball around, finding an equaliser on 10 minutes with a stunning long range shot that left goalkeeper Steve Oliver rooted to the spot.

The goal sparked ‘Combe back into life and they started to deny the hosts their time and space on the ball.

The second half seemed more like a cup game at times as both teams went for the win. A soft pitch became boggier as the game progressed but both teams stuck to the basics and played their football on the deck.

Ilfracombe took the lead for the second time with 15 minutes to play, Ryan Turner showing pace and versatility up front after being switched from the right wing to replace the injured Tom Rossiter.

Darren Parish found Middleton in a forward position, who turned and slotted the ball through to Turner. The youngster only needed two touches, one to get it out from under his feet and the other to drill the ball in the bottom corner from all of 25 yards.

Sutton piled forward looking for a reply but Oliver was in no mood to let them have it easily, making two outstanding saves.

The keeper dived to his right and somehow twisted his body mid air to scoop the ball out with his left hand. He followed it up with a brilliant reaction save and when Mayne cleared another off the line ‘Combe started to think it was their day.

However, Sutton did find the net with five minutes remaining, the visitors being punished for failing to clear their lines from a short corner.

Ilfracombe had one last chance to win the match when Middleton whipped in a corner to Josh Heafield, who controlled the ball and drilled it back towards goal with his left foot. But when the goalkeeper parried his shot into the path of Steve Holland, he could only blaze his effort over the bar from six yards.

On Saturday, Ilfracombe Town will be hoping for a big crowd to spur them on against Larkhall Athletic in the FA Carlsberg Vase at Marlborough Park.