Barnstaple and Ilfracombe make it through to the last 64 of cup competition

BARNSTAPLE and Ilfracombe have both made it through to the third round of the FA Carlsberg Vase with narrow victories on Saturday.

Barnstaple Town beat Wessex League Premier Division side Downton 3-2 at Mill Road, while at Marlborough Park, Ilfracombe needed a late Ross Middleton penalty to go through as 1-0 winners against Winterbourne Town, from the Hellenic Football League Division One West.

Despite taking the lead through Stan Paxton after 13 minutes, Barnstaple toiled to gain a stable foothold in the game and chased the ball for much of the first half.

Downton were rewarded for their persistence 35 seconds into the second half through Matt Holmes but paid the price for missing good chances to take the lead when Billy Hopcroft twice came to Barum’s rescue.

Hopcroft restored the advantage on 65 minutes with a fine chip and got on the end of Ricky Marinaro’ s cross to make it 3-1 from 10 yards with seven minutes to play.

The Robins pulled one back through Declan McGregor in added time.

Ilfracombe Town reached the third round of the Vase for the first time in the club’s history following Saturday’s win against Gloucestershire visitors Winterbourne Town.

The Bluebirds had to fight hard against stubborn opposition who turned up with a simple game plan to keep a clean sheet and force a replay, which they very nearly did.

Winterbourne were intent on wasting time from the kick off and were not ashamed to show it.

But ‘Combe were not put off by the travelling tactics and hit the ground running. They will be disappointed they didn’t kill the game off within the first half an hour, Taswell missing two great chances from close range. After he failed to connect with a cut back from Shaun Lewis with the goal gaping, a similar chance soon after was diverted by a last ditch challenge.

Lewis’ pace was causing the defence all sorts of trouble and the hosts were passing the ball around with authority on a surprisingly spongy Marlborough Park pitch.

Further chances fell to James Mayne who headed over and Middleton, who scuffed his shot wide.

Manger Barry Yeo could have been forgiven for thinking it wasn’t going to be his side’s day when the linesman flagged the unfortunate Josh Heathfield for offside. Heathfield was left in a heap inside the six yard box after a good run into the box from the left wing. The ball fell to Mike Heddon who drilled it into the net via the backside of Heathfield, who was still face down in the dirt.

The second half never reached the heights of the first with both teams struggling to keep possession.

Winterbourne’s confidence began to grow and Ilfracombe found it hard to create any real chances as the visitors looked increasingly likely to get the re-play they wanted.

A double substitution by Yeo paid dividends when Tom Rossiter got the bit of luck ‘Combe needed. Taswell crossed from the right and Rossiter hit a goal-bound shot that was blocked by the hands of defender Neil Ward.

Middleton calmly tucked away the resulting penalty 12 minutes from time and goalkeeping heroics from Steve Oliver prevented Winterbourne’s Ben Walker from finding the net with a 35-yard screamer in the final minutes.

Following Monday’s draw, Ilfracombe will play either Larkhall Athletic or Bodmin Town at home on December 3. Barnstaple will travel to Bournemouth FC.