Barnstaple and Ilfracombe suffer early FA Cup exits after conceding late goals in Somerset.
THIS season’s road to Wembley was a short one for Ilfracombe and Barnstaple who both suffered FA Cup extra preliminary round defeats on Saturday.
Both crashed out to late goals in Somerset, Barnstaple losing 3-2 at Toolstation Western League Premier Division rivals Wells City, while Ilfracombe bowed out to a single goal at division one side Chard Town.
Combe got their first win on the board with a 4-1 victory at home to Street on Tuesday night.
But on Saturday, things went from bad to worse after a horrendous journey in traffic meant the team only arrived at the ground 20 minutes before kick-off.
Then after dominating for the majority of the match, a cruel ricochet off defender Kevin Darch’s shin presented Chard striker Sam Clark with a sniff at goal in the dying minutes.
Manager Ross Middleton said: “It’s hard to take but as a team we have to take it on the chin; people were saying we were unlucky but I don’t believe in all that – we got punished for not taking our chances over the 90 minutes and that’s our fault as a team, nothing to do with luck.
“Anyone who watched the match will find it hard to deny we deserved the victory. On another day we win 3-0, but with the score at 0-0 you’re always vulnerable and to be fair their striker took his goal brilliantly.”
It was a disappointing end to the match for the visitors who had controlled large parts of the game and played some bright football on the sloped surface at Chard.
Going down the hill in the first half, strikers Edd Yeo and Billy Tucker always looked dangerous but it was left winger Jon Vooght who had the best chances, his first a header that went wide of the goal.
Shaun Copp then spilt the defence with a great ball and with Yeo and Vooght both waiting to tap home, Vooght took control but uncharacteristically rolled the ball wide of the target.
Further chances came and went but none as clear cut. Chard played a patient game and slowed the match down at every opportunity but they always looked dangerous on the counter.
Steve Oliver had little to do in goal but made a sharp save at his near post mid-way through the opening half.
The second half featured much of the same with Chard seemingly happy to play for a replay.
Combe’s best opening was a sublime piece of quick one-touch football, Lee Francis knocking a neat one-two with Copp, whose clever back heel demanded to be smashed into the net. Instead, Francis unselfishly decided to square to Yeo giving the keeper time to dive across and make the block.
“When we moved the ball quickly they couldn’t live with us,” added Middleton.
“We have some outstandingly good technically gifted young players and when they’re on it, it’s extremely hard for teams to stay with them.
“The trick is keeping us at that level and tempo and I thought we let it drop in the second half; if we’d been able to up it another 10 per cent we would be in the next round, I have no doubt.”
Ilfracombe travelled to Willand last night (Tuesday) looking for a quick response. They face a tough home game against Bristol Manor Farm on Saturday.
Barnstaple Town came from 2-0 down at half-time to pull level at Wells City.
Andy Alexander and Craig Sandle reduced the deficit for Dave Griffiths’ side only for Tom Manning to grab a last minute victory for the hosts.
Barum had Cory Roach sent off before the final whistle.
Barnstaple were playing Hallen at home last night (Tuesday) before the visit to Larkhall Athletic on Saturday.