Somerset County League
Premier Division
Ilminster Town 1, Clevedon United 2

AFTER the previous week’s defeat to Watchet Town, Ilminster Town had another home fixture against mid-table Clevedon United on Saturday and were hoping to pull away from the relegation zone, writes Andy Fish.

Once again, Ilminster began well and took the lead, albeit controversially.

Charlie Rutter went up for a challenge and caught a Clevedon defender; with the visitors demanding a free-kick, Taylor Jefferson latched on to the bouncing ball to put the Blues ahead and hit double figures for the season.

The away side wanted the goal disallowed, and the furious arguments held the game up for around 10 minutes, so the Blues’ momentum from the first half hour vanished.

The hosts were still ahead at the hour mark, but a Clevedon counter-attack ended with Grant Evans equalising.

Ilminster pushed hard to regain the lead, with Brad Miles and Karl Davis looking threatening.

The Blues have missed a senior player to restore order, and Chris Nezianya – who has missed most of the season with a wrist injury – came off the bench to help settle his side down.

And he was unlucky not to score, rolling his marker and finding the side netting with his shot.

But the winner went to the visitors on 82 minutes, as a cross-field pass saw right-back Jack Male caught out, and as he tried to make amends his tackle gave away a penalty, dispatched by Mike Purnell.

There was still time for Miles to hit a speculative shot but it went wide, meaning a second home defeat in as many weeks.

With Staplegrove winning, Ilminster are now in a relegation battle; the side desperately need a win to boost confidence.

Ilminster: Chris May, Jack Male, Luke Paul, Louis Rutter, Karl Davis, Brad Pitman, Brad Miles, Kieron Manley, Ben Pitman, Taylor Jefferson, Charlie Rutter. Subs (used): Tom Sullivan, Chris Nezianya, Doug Whitfield.

On Saturday the Blues have a six-pointer at home to fellow bottom-half side Bridgwater Town Reserves (ko 3pm).


Somerset County League
Division 1 West
Combe St Nicholas 1, Ashton & Backwell Utd Res 0

COMBE welcomed Ashton & Backwell United Reserves to Slades Cross for what turned out to be a physical encounter.

Combe started brightly, but they suffered a setback on 10 minutes, as captain Matt Tooze was sent off for a reckless tackle.

However, Combe then stepped up a gear and went ahead through a wonder strike from Mark Biss.

The teams were evened up on 25 minutes when an opposition player saw red – also for a reckless challenge – and Combe remained 1-0 up at half time.

The second half was very much the same, with both sides battling hard.

Combe missed a lot of chances to make it 2-0, but still took the points.

This second straight win lifts Combe up to 13th place; they return to action on March 10, at home to Congresbury (ko 3pm).


South West Women’s League
Premier Division
Downend Flyers Women 0, Ilminster Town Ladies 1

SUNDAY saw Ilminster Town Ladies travel to Bristol to take on Downend Flyers, looking to do the double after winning the reverse fixture 3-0.

The game began frantically, and the Blues looked likely to score from a set-piece, with captain Sarah Miller almost heading in.

And so it was a set-piece that broke the deadlock, as Meg Purchase scored a second free-kick in as many games, as her 20-yard strike moved in the air and went in under the crossbar.

The visitors were 1-0 up at half time, but only after keeper Charlotte Johnson reacted well to stop a shot bound for the top corner.

There were few chances after the break, Ilminster’s best coming from player of the match Amy Burge, who shot narrowly wide.

Johnson stayed alert at the other end, and was out quickly to deny the Downend striker late on.

Ilminster: Charlotte Johnson, Sammie Knight, Daisy Charles, Dana Andrews, Charlie Pettinger, Sarah Miller (c), Meg Purchase, Maisie Parker, Graziely Esperanca, Amy Burge, Shannon Crouch. Subs: Hannah Billing, Amy Goss.

Ilminster travel to league leaders Buckland Athletic this Sunday (ko 2pm).

In Division 2 of the Somerset County Women’s League, Combe Ladies won 3-2 at home to Purnell Reserves, thanks to a Sam Brass hat-trick.