Paxtonâ€™s first half hat-trick knocks the stuffing out of Rovers
STAN Paxton scored a 30-minute hat-tick as Barnstaple put five past bottom-of-the-league Welton Rovers on Saturday.
Barumâ€™s top scorer took his season tally to 18 goals to fire the hosts into a 3-0 half-time lead that in truth, flattered the hosts.
Welton started brightly and had good early chances through Ashley Lewis and Mark Reynolds before Paxton grabbed his first on 10 minutes.
Keeper Dan Tamblyn saved the initial effort but was unable to do anything as Paxton drilled home the rebound.
The second came on 25 minutes when the striker applied the cool finish to Billy Hopcroftâ€™s square ball.
And Paxton sealed the hat-trick with his head five minutes later.
Despite staring almost certain relegation from the Toolstation Premier Division in the face, the Midsomer Norton men refused to go quietly and took the game to the hosts after the break.
Craig Rimmer, Andrew Forward and Reynolds all missed chances for the visitors but Reynolds did offer them hope when he banged in a well-taken half-volley past goalkeeper Luke Purnell from the edge of the box.
Welton continued to drive forward and created chances with an extra man up top. But they lacked a clinical edge to their shooting and left themselves exposed at the back only to concede two more, both through Jamie Skinner after good work by Hopcroft.
The result saw Barnstaple climb to 10th in the table and Barum could have a say on the eventual destination of the title when they play second-placed Bitton at Mill Road on Saturday.
Ilfracombe put a serious dent in Bittonâ€™s title challenge with a well-deserved 1-0 win at Bath Road.
Shaun Lewis was on target in a 2-0 win against the same opposition at Marlborough Park last August.
And the striker found the net 10 minutes into the second half with an effort that was all about pace, power and pin-point accuracy.
Lewis raced onto a Karl Baggaley header on the right flank and left the defenders in his wake as he cut inside and fired a rasping shot in off the underside of the crossbar.
It was no less than the Bluebirds deserved. Barry Yeoâ€™s side moved the ball around well on a bobbly pitch and carved out good opportunities, notably for Steve Holland and Mark Clunie in the first half, and Leon Taswell in the second.
And despite coming under pressure in the later stages, Neil Bettiss and James Mayne marshalled the defence well to secure the win.
â€˜Combe play leaders Larkhall on Saturday and are away to Hallen on Monday.
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