Halloween weekend serves up a few nasty shocks for local sides

THERE were plenty of tricks – but few treats – in a disappointing weekend for North Devon’s Western League sides.

Barnstaple and Ilfracombe both failed to score in heavy defeats that saw them lose ground in the Toolstation Premier Division.

Barnstaple were beaten 4-0 at home by leaders Larkhall Athletic, who bounced back from last week’s 6-0 drubbing at Ilfracombe to maintain top spot in the table.

The Larks took the lead 10 minutes in through front man Gary Banks and doubled it soon after when Tyler Sibbick broke down the right and hit a 20-yard top corner effort.

Barnstaple missed a chance to pull a goal back from the penalty spot and more punishment was dished out minutes later when Jamie Lyons headed the visitors’ third. Banks made it 4-0 10 minutes into the second half.

Barnstaple will have a chance to recoup and regroup this weekend ahead of their next game at home to Bishop Sutton on November 13.

While Barnstaple slipped to eighth, Ilfracombe dropped to seventh after a wretched weekend on the road. The Bluebirds are still struggling with injuries and made the long trip to Odd Down with just the bare XI players.

Heavy motorway traffic made for a weary backroad journey to Bath and if the cards weren’t already stacked against them enough, they even had to borrow Odd Down’s yellow away strip after discovering the home team also played in blue.

Apart from bringing in Mark Gilfillan for the injured Robbie Gough, manager Barry Yeo was able to start with the same side that did so well against Larkhall last week.

‘Combe started well but began to look sloppy after goalkeeper Steve Oliver let a tame shot trickle through his hands and over the line after 20 minutes.

The visitors picked up the pace playing up a difficult pitch in the second half, Shaun Lewis going close with a one-on-one, and Michael Heddon forcing a good save with a point-blank header.

But things fell to pieces soon after when Oliver’s ball to Scott Huxtable was intercepted and nonchalantly curled into the top corner for Odd Down’s second. The hosts made it 3-0 with a tap-in late on.

With Gough out for a month with a calf injury, the expected return of Steve Holland should provide a welcome boost for Yeo this week ahead of Saturday’s home game against Wells City.