IT'S been a long time coming, but Ilfracombe finally banished their horrendous Marlborough Park hoodoo with a 2-0 win against Radstock Town on Saturday. Seventy-seven Bluebird faithfuls breathed a collective sigh of relief as goals by Lee Francis and Rick
IT'S been a long time coming, but Ilfracombe finally banished their horrendous Marlborough Park hoodoo with a 2-0 win against Radstock Town on Saturday.Seventy-seven Bluebird faithfuls breathed a collective sigh of relief as goals by Lee Francis and Ricky Marinaro helped bag the first home three points of the season.The win bore little of 'Combe's struggles this season and could have been more emphatic were it not for a hatful of wasted chances by the front two of Marc Bettiss and Mark Clunie.Steve Oliver had little to do between the posts, while at the other end, his side grew with the confidence earned through long spells of possession.Francis was the man to help exile the frustrations with a goal from the left on 65 minutes and - unlike in similarly balanced fixtures this season - 'Combe were not ready to let go of this Radstock stick.The two-goal cushion eventually came through Marinaro's 81st minute spot-kick after skipper Ross Middleton was felled in the box.Ilfracombe now have a week off before the next game against Dawlish in the St Luke's Bowl on Tuesday, November 25.****************While fans celebrated in Ilfracombe, travelling Bideford supporters had just as much reason to cheer as their side progressed through to the third round of the FA Carlsberg Vase.But the Robins were made to work hard for their 4-2 win against Toolstation Premier Division rivals Brislington who started brightly and cranked up the pressure with a scrappy opener on 20 minutes.In a fairly lack-lustre first half, Bideford did manage to find an equalizer, Ben Wood on hand to finish Jamie Densham's parried shot.After the break, Bideford knew they'd have to raise their game to stand a chance of progressing and pocketing the £1,200 FA prize money up for grabs for teams reaching the last 64.Despite the sizeable carrot, it was Brislington who were awarded the chance to pull clear first when Dominic Rivans conceded a penalty. Ryan Draper's diving save denied the hosts and appeared to give the Robins the confidence to go forward and create.Ellis Laight headed them into the lead on 65 minutes but Brislington came back to level and set up a fascinating cup-tie contest.Bideford manager Sean Joyce then made a double substitution, bringing on Sam Churchill for Lee Groves, who has returned as a permanent signing after a couple of spells at the club. Joyce also switched Densham for Robbie Gough who made an immediate impact by firing in a 25-yard shot to make it 3-2.Matt Downing then made it four with a quality low strike from the edge of the area on 80 minutes.The reward is a home tie against Frome Town on Saturday, December 6. This Saturday, Bideford are at home to Devizes Town in the league.****************And there was better news too this week for Barnstaple Town, who picked up their first points in eight games under the tutorship of new manager Owen Pickard.Barum's performance in the 2-2 draw with Sherborne Town - the first game since Pickard's appointment earlier this month - was full of positive promise, despite a first-half injury to the new player manager.Pickard's debut in Dorset ended up with a trip to casualty at Yeovil District Hospital after a 50/50 tackle left him with five stitches in his knee - and made him late for his own birthday party celebrations back in Barnstaple that night!Pickard, who actually turned 39 yesterday (Tuesday), told the Gazette that he was unlikely to be able to make last night's game at Dawlish Town due to an infection caused by the injury.But he said he was pleased with his side's response following initial training sessions."We've got two good (training) sessions behind us now and the players have reacted really well," he said. "For me, it was a very positive performance. We didn't look like conceding in the first half and despite Sherborne equalising in the second half, we showed good spirit to go 2-1 up again."Stan Paxton had headed Barum in front after half-an-hour played before the hosts leveled 10 minutes after the re-start.Paxton headed Barnstaple's second 65 minutes in, only for Sherborne to come back again with a goal five minutes from time."From what I understand, we lost a bit of shape towards the end, but we have a young, inexperienced side and don't have many leaders in the team," added Pickard.New Ivybridge signing Martyn Sullivan was expected to be included in last night's squad for the game against Dawlish, while fellow Ivybridge transfer Shane Powell was set to miss the game due to commitments in London.Pickard confirmed that he would be looking to further strengthen the side in the run up to the next game at home to Bishop Sutton a week on Saturday.