Somerset County Premier
Ilminster Town 3, Shirehampton 4

ILMINSTER Town faced Shirehampton at home on Saturday and the Bristol-based side, who were runners-up in the Premier League last season, came out as victors, writes Andy Fish.

Shirehampton have a good pedigree, twice being crowned champions in the last eight seasons, with star striker Scott Bamford scoring an incredible 261 goals during that spell.

lminster found themselves 1-0 down after just nine seconds when, straight from the kick-off the ball was fed out right to Bamfield 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, that was hit so sweetly Chris May in goal did not even move.

Within two minutes, Bamfield 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 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 firemen.

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 has 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 scores 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 poor goal to give away from the home side.

The Blues came again when Jefferson had a great run down the right and, when he whipped in a dangerous cross, Tom Sullivan arrived but stopped the ball over on the stretch.

The Blues were playing some good football but when Brad Pitman was robbed in possession the ball was quickly worked out to Bamford who 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 duel.

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. Ben Pitman, who had twice needed the attention of physio Andy Dyke was replaced by Jack Male and he was involved in the build-up that led to Jefferson hitting the post, 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; Jefferson chose to chip but the ball crept agonising wide.

Ilminster kept playing their passing game and were well on top. They 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.

Ilminster: Chris May, Luke Paul, Karl Davis, Brad Pitman, Jake Woodard, Adam Male, Brad Miles, Tom Sullivan, Ben Pitman, Taylor Jefferson, Charlie Rutter. Sub (used): Jack Male.

Ilminster are without a game on Saturday and the following week are away in the League Cup, where the side will be looking for revenge as Shirehampton are the opponents.

Andrew Male and his Reserve team are home at the Archie Gooch Pavilion with a 2.15 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.


Somerset FA Women's Junior Cup
Ilminster Town Ladies 2, Team Mendip 2 (3-5 pen)

ILMINSTER Town Ladies exited the Junior County Cup on Sunday, beaten on penalties by visitors Team Mendip.

The match started very scrappily, but it was the away side who broke the deadlock in the 12th minute with a great individual goal.

The ball found its way out to the left-hand side of the Mendip attack, the winger turned well, cutting inside onto her right foot, and precisely hit the ball just under the crossbar from all of 30 yards.

The Blues managed to get themselves back into the game before half time, with a 35th-minute equaliser.

Amy Burge got the ball out of her feet 25 yards from goal, and unfortunately for the Mendip goalkeeper, she misjudged the bounce and it found the bottom right-hand corner.

The second half was much the same, with no real clear-cut chances for either team.

But in the 60th minute Team Mendip regained the lead, this time from the penalty spot, after Ilminster left-back Dana Andrews was adjudged to have brought down the right winger.

Some of the best football the hosts played all day led to a second equaliser on 72 minutes.

Captain Sarah Miller won the ball, and the team worked possession towards Meg Purchase, who played an inch-perfect ball into the path of striker Shannon Crouch, who finished well.

The sides were still level at the end of 90 minutes, and there were no further goals in extra time, so the tie would be decided on penalties.

Team Mendip went first and took five near-perfect penalties, to take the shootout 5-3.

So that means there is no cup run for the young Ilminster side this year, but it's onto next week for the Blues, who make the long journey down to Charlestown in the league.