THE weather and the opposition were both just too hot for a young Barnstaple side as they suffered a 3-0 defeat away to Larkhall Athletic, one of the front runners of the Premier Division in recent seasons.
Having left home at 10am, the Town squad became tangled in the aftermath of a road accident and did not arrive at the pitch until 3.10pm.
A one-and-a-half hour wait in a stifling hot minibus did not prepare them well and there were tired looks among some of the players, who had given their all in a tough midweek game when they gained a satisfying 1-0 win over Hallen.
Missing a number of their regulars through work commitments, the young team kicked off 45 minutes late. Within 15 minutes they had lost left back Cory Roach with a dislocated shoulder.
They fought hard and were in the game for the first 20 minutes, but Larkhall only turned up the heat.
Keeper Daz Rose did his best to keep Larkhall at bay with an outstanding display, especially in the second half, but the home side took the lead on half-an-hour, added a second just after the break and a third 10 minutes from the end.
Now Town can put the concerns of travel behind them for a while as the next three Saturdays all bring home games. This weekend they entertain Bristol Manor Farm.
Chalk and cheese
AFTER a brilliant 2-0 win away to Willand on Tuesday night, Ilfracombe suffered a 4-0 thumping at home to Bristol Manor Farm on Saturday.
“They’ve certainly made my start to management a lively one,” said manager Ross Middleton
“I’ve just about seen everything I can this week, we played brilliantly at Chard last Saturday and lost 1-0 with last kick of the game. The lads bounced back and put in an outstanding team performance away to Willand. Then, just as I think we’re getting going and things are starting to click into place they put in a performance like today. It was horrible from start to finish, it was like they’d never met each other at times. Talk about chalk and cheese from Tuesday to Saturday”
Both teams were huffing and puffing in the first half without any real quality in the final third. Bristol Manor Farm found the first piece of quality and took the lead on 30 minutes directly from a free kick,.
Combe came flying out of the traps in the second half and put Manor Farm under consistent pressure, but just as they were turning the screw a poor mistake at the back let the visitors take a 2-0 lead. “We were all over them at the time, it was a case of ‘when’ we would score not ‘if’ and then we let them right off the hook. Unfortunately we never recovered from it as you go chasing the game’
Manor’s third came from a great cross field pass and good finish and they rubbed salt into the wound with the last kick of the game.
But Middleton remains positive. “I have no doubt we’ll recover quickly from this, it’s a learning curve for the young squad and me as a young manager, I just wish we had a midweek game, as we seem to do well in those at the minute,” he said.
Combe now have two tough home games against unbeaten Brislington on successive Saturdays. This week in the league and next week in the FA Vase.