Uhlsport Somerset County League
Premier Division
Watchet Town 1, Ilminster Town 2

ILMINSTER Town travelled to fourth-placed Watchet Town to renew a longstanding Somerset County League rivalry that goes back to the mid-1960s, writes Andy Fish.

The names of Sully, Long and Milton have been associated with Watchet for years, and it will bring back memories for the older Ilminster supporters to know that they still apply with the next generation in West Somerset.

Watchet have enjoyed the greater success recently, winning the Premier Division title in 2016/17 and finishing as runners-up last season.

With Ilminster’s match with Westfield called off last week, Blues manager Andy Dyke watched Watchet’s match with Shirehampton, and the knowledge Dyke gained was vital as his side secured their first win at the Memorial Ground for many years.

A dominant first half, with goals from Andy Whitefield and Brad Miles, was instrumental and despite the hosts pulling a goal back in the second half this was another fantastic away victory against a top four side.

Watchet opened up with their 12-goal top scorer Tom Sparks shooting narrowly wide, before Will Spurway very nearly got his first goal of the season when his effort from 25 yards struck the crossbar at the other end.

There was more to come, as Chris May rolled the ball out to Josh Phillips, who surged down the left, leaving the Watchet midfield in his wake, before releasing Lee Sweet, who drove at the home defence and delivered a low cross that Andy Whitefield met with perfection to give his side the lead.

The hosts gave away a succession of free-kicks and when Whitefield stepped up the keeper did well to parry away his goalbound effort, but the alert Brad Miles was on hand to double the advantage from a tight angle.

The Blues midfield of Ben Pitman, Spurway, Miles and Sweet were completely in control, and with Whitefield causing problems with his pace this was one of the Blues’ best 45 minutes of the season.

The second half began as Ilminster expected, with Watchet coming out with all guns blazing and it was important not to concede early.

Now the Blues’ back four shone, with Phillips, Sam Tratt (promoted from the Reserves), Luke Paul and Doug Whitfield all on top of their game.

Chris May had to be alert on 55 minutes as he saved at the feet of Sparks, while at the other end Miles and Spurway saw efforts from distance well saved.

The away side held form until 75 minutes, when Watchet won a corner and big centre-half Jamie Milton headed in.

Still the visitors stood firm and never buckled, showed great guts and team spirit as they held out to take all three points and make it three wins on the bounce since the turn of the year.

Tratt and Whitfield were superb in the centre of defence, especially in the final 15 minutes, but it was Whitefield who won man of the match for his all-action display up front.

Ilminster Town: Chris May, Josh Phillips, Luke Paul, Doug Whitfield, Sam Tratt, Brad Miles, Lee Sweet, Ben Pitman, Will Spurway, Charlie Rutter, Andy Whitefield. Sub (used): Carl Lazenby

This Saturday, sixth-placed Shirehampton, and the league’s top scorer Scot Branford (26 goals), visit the Archie Gooch Pavilion (ko 2.30pm).


Uhlsport Somerset County League
Division 3
Cutters Friday 0, Combe St Nicholas 2

COMBE made the long trip to bottom side Cutters Friday on Saturday and encountered an uneven pitch.

They settled quickest, with the dangerous Luke Perry causing all sorts of trouble, and eventually took the lead through the industrious Scott Jennings, after a slip by a defender.

It stayd 1-0 at the break, but Combe were in control and creating chances.

With five minutes to go, Perry ran down the line and crossed to Adam Male, who laid it off for Josh Manley to score well from 18 yards for a debut goal.

Manager Darren Manley was pleased with his defence, after their first clean sheet of the season, and praised 18-year-old man of the match Charlie Hine.

This coming Saturday, Combe host Banwell (ko 2.30pm).