ILFRACOMBE players were shocked and disappointed to hear the news that manager Barry Yeo and chairman Alan Day have both decided to step down from their roles at the end of the season.
Yeo has had a successful time as manager after stepping up from captain to take over the role on the retirement of Kevin Pickard and has guided Combe to two top three finishes and their first Western League silverware, when they won the Les Philips Cup last season.
He has had a testing time this season, guiding the team through a transition period. While a number of the more experienced players have struggled to be available for every game, Yeo has brought in some exciting young local young talent such as Josh Heafield, Craig Allen, Ryan Turner, Scott Huxtable and Mark Clunie, which should stand the club in good stead for the future.
Chairman Alan Day has worked along side Yeo throughout his time as manager and will also be sorely missed. He has had a huge impact on the club and is popular with the players, especially as he even drives the bus on match days!
Both have decided the time is right for new people to step in and take on the challenge, so they can relax a little more on Saturday afternoons.
On the field, local rivals Barnstaple and Ilfracombe fought out a goalless stalemate on Good Friday. Ilfracombe followed up with a 2-0 win at home to Sherborne on Monday.
With both teams having little left to play for this season, the local derby fizzled out. Both teams have struggled for goals this season and although they created chances neither could take them.
The best opportunity fell to Ross Middleton after Combe were awarded a penalty in the first half when Steve Holland was bundled to the ground. The midfielder struck it hard and low, but Ryan Draper got down well and parried it around the post. Middleton almost made amends five minutes later when the ball bobbled back to him on the edge of the area. He drove it back through the crowded box, only to see it hit the post.
Town had chances of their own. Billy Tucker had two great opportunities to lob Steve Oliver in the visiting goal. The first time he managed to get it over the outrushing Oliver, but it bounced agonisingly wide. After trying the same trick again, Oliver read it well and got a hand to the ball before catching it safely.
After an open first half, the second half was a disappointment. Combe had the majority of possession, but did little in front of goal, while Barnstaple retreated back to defend the clean sheet and hoped they could break away and nick a goal.
Their plan almost worked when a sloppy back pass was a little short. Danny Jenkins raced after it to pressure Oliver, who rushed out of his goal to clear the ball, but it bobbled and bounced over his foot. With the ball rolling towards an empty net, Oliver was the quickest to react and just had time to make a sliding tackle to rob the striker of an easy chance.
In one last chance of glory Ilfracombe’s Shaun Copp struck a right foot volley, but it bounced a foot wide of the Barnstaple goal.
After the disappointment of the derby Ilfraceombe manger Barry Yeo rang the changes and reverted to a 4-4-2 formation with Jon Vooght, Tom Rossiter, Scott Huxtable, Shaun Copp and Mike Heddon all returning to the starting line up.
With the wind and the rain crashing down on Marlborough Park visiting Sherborne felt the full brunt of a derby day hangover as Combe ran riot in the first half.
Combe had some great opportunities before Shaun Copp opened the scoring. Middleton set Shaun Lewis free with a ball forward and he out paced the defence to set up Copp. Five minutes later Copp was free again , but this time his chip over the keeper bounced just wide. Soon after he was at it again, rounding the keeper, but only to see his shot cleared off the line by the covering defence.
A second goal did come before half time. Lewis created space for himself and found Tom Rossiter free inside the area, needing only a touch to slot the ball home. The second half became more scrappy as the wind and rain lashed down and both teams struggled to create any real opportunities as the ball swirled around.
This Saturday sees Ilfracombe at home to Bridport and Barnstaple at home to Longwell Green.