Uhlsport Somerset County League
Premier Division
Ilminster Town 2, Stockwood Green 0

ILMINSTER Town began 2019 with a positive result, as a hard-fought 2-0 win took them up to ninth spot, leapfrogging opponents Stockwood Green in the process, writes Andy Fish.

Stockwood started the better of the two teams before Ilminster started to push forward.

Taylor Jefferson twice found himself in good positions but couldn’t convert, while Charlie Rutter also should have done better but his shot lacked power.

Stockwood Green were very physical and had two players in the referee’s notebook before the half-hour mark after robust challenges.

The deadlock was broken on 40 minutes, Alex Paul taking a direct free-kick and Louis Rutter’s late run across the goalkeeper leaving him rooted to the spot as the ball flew in.

The second half was again evenly contested, and the visitors saw an effort from the edge of the box hit the top of the bar.

If the first Blues goal was slightly lucky, the second was sheer class, Brad Miles playing a one-two with Luke Paul before Paul found Jefferson and it went back to Miles, who curled the ball into the far corner from the edge of the box.

With tensions high, Jefferson’s over-exuberant celebration, with some obscenities aimed at a Stockwood defender, was enough for the referee to issue a straight red card.

The talented Jefferson now has a two-week suspension and will, hopefully, learn from it.

Even with 10 men, Ilminster completely dominated the last half-hour but spurned several chances to treble the lead.

Andy Whitefield burst through on goal only for Stockwood’s centre-half Danny Barwood to unceremoniously take him out, and the referee evened up the numbers.

With a late goalmouth scramble cleared, Ilminster were able to celebrate a very good 2-0 win.

It was a solid team performance, but with an outstanding display at the back Louis Rutter rightly earned the man of the match vote.

After much debate, the first goal was awarded to Alex Paul who, on his 298th appearance, went second in the all-time Ilminster goalscorers list with 129 (ahead of Darren Manley on 128), but he has a fair way to go to reach the top scorer (Andy Fish) on 202 first team goals.

Paul made his debut in the 2001/02 season and has played for Ilminster most of that time but has also had spells at Chard Town and Barrington.

Ilminster: Chris May, Luke Paul, Louis Rutter, Doug Whitfield, Brad Miles, Brad Pitman, Alex Paul, Ben Pitman, Will Spurway, Taylor Jefferson, Charlie Rutter. Sub (used): Andy Whitefield.

Next Saturday, Ilminster travel to basement side Odd Down Reserves (ko 2pm).