Somerset County League Premier & Division 1 Cup

Bridgwater Town Res 3, Ilminster Town 3 (Bridgwater win 5-4 on penalties)

ILMINSTER faced a tricky cup tie against Division 1 leaders Bridgwater Town Reserves on Saturday, writes Andy Fish.

The old adage of a game of two halves rang true as, after a fine first half performance that saw Ilminster come in at the break 3-0 up, the 47th-minute sending off of Alex Paul completely changed the game as Bridgwater exploited the large Fairfax Park playing surface against 10 men and came back to draw 3-3.

With no extra time in the League Cup this season it was straight to penalties, and Ilminster must have been confident after their shoot out win in the last round.

Doug Whitfield, Brad Miles, George Miles and Andy Whitefield all scored, while Chris May got close to one Bridgwater penalty, but young Josh Phillips failed from the spot to leave the score at 4-4 and when the hosts scored their last penalty that was that.

Ilminster started the match brightly and Taylor Jefferson made a great run down the left before delivering a great ball into Adam Male, who headed just wide.

On 12 minutes top scorer Jefferson took a blow to the back from an opponents knee and unfortunately had to leave the field where he was replaced by Andy Whitefield.

Some good team play led to the opening goal that Carl Lazenby dispatched from just outside of the box with his less favoured left foot to give his side a 15th minute lead.

Ilminster were completely dominating, with youngsters Josh Phillips and Jack Read brilliantly combining down the right, and in the 18th minute Brad Miles icked out Whitefield, who made it 2-0 with a good finish.

Bridgwater stepped up a gear and had a couple of half-chances before Ilminster gained control as Lazenby found himself one-on-one with the keeper, who fouled the striker as he tried to go round him.

Alex Paul made no mistake to put Ilminster 3-0 up.

Paul went from hero to zero two minutes into the second half, however. Having been booked in the first half for kicking the ball away, he pulled at his marker and was given a second yellow followed by the red.

Adam Male was sacrificed as Ben Pitman came on to strengthen the midfield but Bridgwater began to push forward and soon pulled one back.

Doug Whitfield made a great block as Ilminster came under pressure and in the 75th minute an unmarked header made it 2-3.

This was followed by a goalmouth scramble that led to the home side equalising.

Whitefield then went on a great run beating three defenders before seeing his goal bound effort blocked on the line.

With no extra time it was straight to penalties and an agonising 5-4 loss.

At least young Philips had the confidence to step up and take the last penalty and he continues to impress, but this was a good learning curve for his development.

Losing Jefferson early on didn’t help but without doubt the sending off changed the game and the experienced Paul must be kicking himself, although the second yellow card seemed harsh.

Ilminster: Chris May, Luke Paul, Ashley Lock,Josh Phillips , Doug Whitfield, Brad Miles, Alex Paul , Adam Male, Carl Lazenby, Andy Whitefield, Jack Read. Subs used: Ben Pitman, Andy Whitefield, George Miles

On Saturday, the Blues travel to league leaders Frys in the Somerset County Premier League with a 2.30pm kick off only two weeks after the home match that finished 1-1.

Ilminster Town Reserves are at home again at the Archie Gooch Pavilion with a 2.30pm kick off against Uplyme.