Somerset County League
Premier Division
Ilminster Town 2, Chilcompton Sports 4

TOP of the table and nine points clear, Chilcompton Sports were the visitors to the Archie Gooch Pavilion on Saturday, and with the young Ilminster side missing goalkeeper Chris May, captain Jonny May and Doug Whitfield, as well as the suspended Brad Miles, the Blues knew they would be in for a hard day’s work, writes Andy Fish.

But, with players missing, others had the opportunity to step forward, with 16-year-old Kieran Manley promoted from the bench after his promising debut last week and veteran Danny Whaites taking over in goal for his first start of the season.

The visitors started well, with their wingers hugging the touchlines and plenty of neat build-up play on show.

The opening goal came out of nowhere, though, as 10 minutes in, 22-goal top scorer Ryan Gay picked up the ball some 30 yards out, before advancing and hitting a rocket into the top corner that gave Whaites no chance.

The Blues fought back well, and Charlie Rutter equalised in the 18th minute, when he picked up a loose ball after a defensive mistake and scored from his second attempt after the keeper had blocked his initial effort.

Chilcompton restored their advantage, however, as Whaites hesitated in the area and Jack Mounty pounced, and soon it was 3-1 when Jacob Brook-Scully scored from a tight angle.

But the hosts were not finished and, with half-time approaching, Rutter challenged the keeper, allowing Brad Pitman to sweep the loose ball home, leaving them trailing 3-2 at the break.

Ilminster started the second period on top, with Taylor Jefferson introduced from the bench and his pace immediately causing problems.

Rutter had a couple of half-chances, but against the run of play the visitors made it 4-2, with a fine counter-attack that was finished by Ryan Childs.

The Blues remained on top, with substitute Chris Nezianya unlucky to see his deft touch from a Jefferson cross go a fraction too high.

Then, with five minutes left, Adam Male stuck the bar with a brave header in a congested penalty area, which saw him forced off with a head injury.

But it was a spirited display from Ilminster, especially with key players missing, and in the second half anyone watching would not have known that Chilcompton were runaway leaders.

Ilminster Town: Danny Whaites, Luke Paul, Karl Davis, Adam Male, Jake Woodard, Ben Pitman, Brad Pitman, Jack Male, Tom Sullivan, Kieran Manley, Charlie Rutter (c). Subs (all used): Taylor Jefferson, Chris Nezianya, Darren Manley.

The Blues are at home again on Saturday, with a 2pm kick-off against fifth-placed Middlezoy Rovers.


South West Women’s League
Premier Division
Bishops Lydeard Ladies 1, Ilminster Town Ladies 1

SUNDAY saw Ilminster make the trip to Bishops Lydeard, in a game that was always going to be hard-fought.

With Town picking up the three points in the early encounter this season, Lydeard were going to be up for this, but the Blues really wanted to do the double.

The opening quarter saw both teams create chances, but neither side could break the deadlock.

Ilminster perhaps looked more likely to score, creating opportunities down the left-hand side through good work from Dana Andrews, Maisie Parker and Shannon Crouch.

The game looked like being 0-0 at half time, but the Blues had other ideas.

A great bit of play, again down their left, saw Parker play a superb ball across the Lydeard back line, and as always Crouch chased the loose ball and forced a defensive mix-up, allowing Crouch to steal the ball and slide the ball into the empty net from 12 yards.

The second half was much the same, with both teams creating chances, but none were clear-cut.

Lydeard nearly levelled in the 60th minute when a clearance struck the onrushing attacker, but the ball went narrowly over.

The hosts did equalise 10 minutes later, when they were awarded a penalty.

Ilminster keeper CJ was just beaten to the ball and committed a foul, with Lydeard stepping up to score from the spot.

Neither team could find a winning goal, and the game ended at 1-1.

In what was a well-contested match, a point apiece seemed a fair reflection.

The Blues fought valiantly, wearing their hearts on their sleeves, but just couldn’t find a winner, although the result sees them sit them sit fourth in the table on 17 points at the halfway stage of the season.

The player of the match was Maisie Parker, for her work rate and desire.

Next Sunday (January 21) Ilminster host Middlezoy Rovers at the Archie Gooch Pavilion (2pm).