FOOTBALL: Battling Ilminster Town lose out to team inspired by league goal machine
ILMINSTER Town lost out by the odd goal in a seven-goal thriller on Saturday (November 25, 2017) to visitors Shirehampton.
The Bristol-based side were runners-up last season in the Premier League of the Somerset County League and have a good pedigree – twice being crowned champions in the last eight campaigns with star striker Scott Bamford scoring an incredible 261 goals during the spell.
llminster amazingly found themselves 1-0 down after just nine seconds when straight from the kick-off the ball was fed out right to Bamford who on picking the ball up, ran at the home defence with pace, power and purpose before cutting inside and hitting an unstoppable shot into the top corner. It was hit so sweetly Ilminster keeper Chris May did not even move.
Within two minutes Bamford was in on goal again but this time May saved the initial effort and with three or four bodies on the line the rebound was cleared to safety.
The young Ilminster side could have been blown away, especially with captain and talismanic centre-half Jonny May away with his defensive partner Doug Whitfield, as both train to be firefighters.
Both Jake Woodard and Adam Male were brought in as replacements, but it was Bamford who started out wide on the right before cutting infield and running directly at goal that was causing all the problems.
The visitors had a game plan that involved diagonal balls from left to right where Bamford was right on the shoulder of young Karl Davis at left back. Davis had certainly never faced such a quality forward as he was run ragged by the experienced front man at times.
Ilminster fought back and slowly got a foothold back in the game with neat passing, and when a free-kick was won on the left Brad Miles swung in a great ball and with a goalmouth scramble Taylor Jefferson was sharpest to react and buried the loose ball from just inside the six-yard box to bring the score level.
Shirehampton restored their lead when a free-kick was headed on and the attacker at the far post could not believe his luck as he headed home unmarked - it was a real poor goal to give away from the home side.
PHOTO - TOP: Brad Miles receives the Ilminster Town player-of-the-match award from Mike Angell of match sponsors Tolchards Brewery.
The Blues came again and were playing some good football, but when Brad Pitman was robbed in possession the ball was quickly worked out to Bamford again ran in on goal before rounding May to give his side a 3-1 lead.
As Ilminster tried to get back in the match, Miles brought a good save from the keeper from a direct free-kick but with Shirehampton playing on the counter attack Bamford broke again but May stood strong and this time won the contest.
The second period started badly for the Blues as Bamford once again raced through the gears and showed his class with a good finish for his hat-trick.
But again Ilminster went at the visitors and with Ben Pitman, who had twice needed the attention of physio Andy Dyke, was replaced by Jack Male it was the substitute who was involved in the build-up that led to Jefferson hitting the post, and Brad Pitman following up to score from the rebound.
Next with 65 minutes on the clock, Jefferson broke through one on one and with the keeper who was well off his line, but could only watch as his chip saw the ball creep agonising wide of the target.
Ilminster kept playing their passing game and were well on top and reduced the deficit even more when Jefferson headed home at the far post from a Sullivan cross to bring the score to 4-3 in the 87th minute.
The Blues could have done with another ten minutes but with little time left, one more chance was created right at the death as a Miles free-kick caused problems but Jefferson saw his shot blocked on the line and Shirehampton held out for the win.
The match was sponsored by Tolchards Brewery and representative Mike Angell was on hand to present the Ilminster man of the match award to Brad Miles.
The result leaves Ilminster Town down in eighth place in the 17-team league with 17 points from 14 matches played.
TEAM: Chris May, Luke Paul, Karl Davis, Brad Pitman, Jake Woodard,Adam Male ,Brad Miles, Tom Sullivan, Ben Pitman, Taylor Jefferson, Charlie Rutter. Subs used: Jack Male.
Ilminster Town 1sts are without a game this coming Saturday (December 2, 2017) and the following week in the League Cup on Saturday, December 9, 2017, they are away at Shirehampton and will be looking for revenge.
Andrew Male and his Ilminster Town Reserve team are home at the Archie Gooch Pavilion on Saturday (December 2, 2017) with a 2.15pm kick-off against Central (Exeter) which could see the return to action of Chris Nezinanya who has finally been passed fit after his wrist injury in the last game of last season at Winscombe.