ILMINSTER stalwart Alex Paul has decided to retire from football, having been an outstanding club servant over the last 20 seasons, writes Andy Fish.

Paul suffered ankle ligament damage after being tackled in March 30’s win at Clutton, his reaction to the tackle seeing him sent off.

The midfielder made more than 300 first team appearances for the Blues, scoring 130 goals, though he also had spells at Chard Town and Barrington.

This latest injury is another one to have taken its toll on him as he got older, but his drive and commitment will be missed.


Uhlsport Somerset County League
Premier Division
Ilminster Town 2, Watchet Town 4

ILMINSTER’S five-game unbeaten run was ended on Saturday, as long-standing rivals Watchet Town all but ended the Blues’ top four hopes.

With Carl Lazenby, Alex Paul, Charlie Rutter and Will Spurway unavailable, Ilminster boss Andy Dyke promoted several of the youngsters from the Reserves.

Owen Burn made his debut at right-back, with Jordan Allen, Sam Hodkinson and Mitch Hooper on the bench.

Watchet began at a frantic pace and went ahead in the ninth minute.

The hosts lost the ball in midfield, the experienced Aaron Deeks ran through and lifted the ball over goalkeeper Chris May; somehow Josh Phillips got back and his stretched clearance hit the crossbar, only for it to fall invitingly for Billy Jones to head home.

The goal woke the Blues up, as they picked up the pace, but Watchet’s 19-goal striker Tom Sparks was causing problems.

He raced onto a long throw down the right, outpaced the defence and squared the ball for Chris Sully to make it 2-0.

Taylor Jefferson had a couple of efforts for the hosts, but then Watchet won a free-kick 20 yards from goal; Chris Sully hit it with pace and a deflection off the wall gave May no chance as the visitors went 3-0 up.

With half-time approaching, Jefferson gave his side a lifeline when he headed home at full stretch from a deep Andy Whitefield cross to make it 3-1.

The Blues began the second half well, and the dangerous Lee Sweet drove down the left, but his shot was straight at the keeper.

Brad Miles then picked up the ball and although his first shot was blocked, he showed great determination to get to the loose ball first and smash the ball into the back of the net to the delight of the large home crowd.

That made it 3-2 but then the pacy Sparks burst through the middle, Chris May slightly hesitated and as he rushed out Sparks got to the ball first before being upended by the keeper.

With no cover behind, referee Ben Judd had no hesitation in showing May the red card and giving a direct free-kick on the edge of the 18-yard box.

Ilminster reorganised, with Jack Rutter brought on for his debut, but Sully found the bottom corner from the free-kick to seal his hat-trick and the points.

Ilminster Town: Chris May, Owen Burn, Luke Paul, Josh Phillips, Doug Whitfield, Brad Miles, Brad Pitman, Ben Pitman, Lee Sweet, Andy Whitefield, Taylor Jefferson. Subs (used): Jack Rutter, Jordan Allen

It was a good second half for Ilminster as they really had a go, but a slow start was costly as they lost for only the second time since the turn of the year.

Burn had a good debut and showed he has nothing to fear at this level, while Sweet had a tremendous second half driving the side forward.

The result leaves Ilminster in eighth, seven points off Watchet in fourth, the West Somerset team also having a game in hand.

Next up for the Blues is a visit from Nailsea United, who sit one place below Ilminster in the Premier Division table (ko 2pm).

That match will be followed by Ilminster Town Reserves against Thorncombe in the Perry Street League Daisy Hutchings Cup semi-final (ko 4.30pm).


Uhlsport Somerset County League
Division 3
Burnham Utd Res 3, Combe St Nicholas 0

THE Saints made the short trip to Burnham after a good performance the week before.

Combe came out flying and nearly took the lead through Jack Steer; Steer then had another good chance when his shot just went wide when well positioned.

However Burnham took the lead after hesitation from the visitors' defence ended with a free-kick which was scored.

Burnham now had their tails up and and an injury to Combe skipper Harry Manley meant Combe had to substitute him for Kieran Manley, making his debut.

The hosts got another goal just before half-time from a good cross and header.

After a stiff talking-to by gaffer Darren Manley, the young Saints side came out and were playing with purpose and edge.

They were causing Burnham all sorts of problems but couldn't quite get the finishing shot off to trouble the home keeper.

With time running out Burnham got a third on a counter-attack to put the result to bed.

The defeat was a result of not working hard enough in the first half and leaving themselves too much to do in the second.