Uhlsport Somerset County League Premier Division

Ilminster Town 4, Watchet Town 3

ILMINSTER Town recorded their fourth straight win with an exciting 4-3 triumph against Watchet Town on Saturday, writes Andy Fish.

Since the difficult start to the season, when they found themselves bottom at one point, a turnaround in form has seen the Blues go unbeaten in the league since August 31.

The ground staff once again did a brilliant job to get the match on, with the bottom goal mouth very wet - the playing surface was not ideal and the whole pitch was very heavy with a lot of sand added.

Despite the conditions, the match started at a high tempo and Watchet had the first chance after the ball completely stopped in the sand and the ball was scooped against the top of the bar.

Next it was Ilminster who created two good chances as Andy Whitefield placed his shot to close to the keeper and then, after linking well with his strike partner Taylor Jefferson, Whitefield lost his footing but still got his shot off from the floor to see it roll just past the post.

On 25 minutes, a quick throw was taken on the right and Will Spurwayfound to Lee Sweet, who dropped his shoulder to beat his man before hitting an absolute thunderbolt from 25 yards out in to the top corner that gave the keeper no chance.

The pace of Whitefield and Jefferson was causing Watchet real problems and the two livewire strikers combined again soon afterwards.

As Whitefield advanced on goal he was fouled from behind just inside the area to win a penalty which Jefferson calmly converted to double the lead.

Watched responded well and neat football led to them striking the bar for a second time from the edge of the area.

Ilminster went route one as a long ball over the top from Luke Paul was chased down by Jefferson, who scored his second goal to make it 3-0.

Moments later it was nearly four as a Watchet defender headed against his own bar.

As the half drew to a close, Watchet came close when leading scorer Tom Sparks forced an excellent save from Jack Rutter.

Deep into stoppage time the visitors did reduce the arrears when the ball went in off Owen Burn having once again struck the bar.

The Blues started the second really well and got their reward when Josh Phillips got up well and flicked on a ball for Whitefield, who steadied himself before finding the back of the net.

Ilminster should have been cruising but all credit to Watchet, who never gave in and cut the deficit when a long ball caught Kris Hastings in two minds and Sparks pounced to score.

Watchet kept pushing forward as the Blues visibly tired and, with five minutes remaining, Watchet skipper Eben Harding scored to make it 4-3.

Ilminster regrouped and Will Spurway, in particular, kept things nice and calm, but there was still one more chance for Watchet from a deep cross which Jack Rutter got a good hand to in a congested penalty box and the danger was averted.

It is never easy to miss even a week when a team is trying to built fitness and momentum but this stop-start season is certainly beginning to cause problems.

The Somerset County League officially extended the season to Saturday, May 16 in the week to help with fixture congestion.

Ilminster have played only two matches in both October and November, one in December and now two in January - despite training it is difficult to find full match fitness.

This once again was a good advert for the Somerset County Premier League with two good sides going toe to toe in a really exciting match.

Ilminster's three midfield players - Sweet, Phillips and Spurway - were all impressive but Jack Rutter was named man of the match for great handling and a couple of excellent saves.

Team: Jack Rutter, Luke Paul, Rich Crabb, Kris Hastings, Doug Whitfield (c), Owen Burn,Will Spurway, Josh Phillips, Lee Sweet, Andy Whitefield, Taylor Jefferson. Subs used: Noah Krusynski, Ben Pitman, Charlie Rutter

This Saturday (2pm), the side travel to runaway leaders Shirehampton who won 2-1 at Ilminster back in August.

Uhlsport Somerset County League Division 3
Combe St Nicholas 3, Cutters Friday 1

CUTTERS Friday were the visitors to Combe on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

Combe settled quickly but couldn't apply the quality needed in the final third.

The Saints had a couple half chances through Jack Male but couldn't quite make it pay.

Cutters broke out on 30 minutes and Combe conceded a harsh penalty for handball which was scored to break the deadlock.

Combe kept plugging away but couldn't find a way through before the break.

In the second half, Cutters nearly got a second from a goalmouth scramble but Nath Fisher was brave and thwarted the chance.

With 20 minutes to go, Jack Steer set off on a great run down the left and crossed for Joe Allen to score from close range.

Combe had their tails up now and soon got a second through a great finish by Steer.

With 10 minutes remaining, Steer got his second, finishing well under pressure when the ball came to him following a good free-kick from Callum Lacey.

Combe then kept the ball really well to see the game out for a great 3-1 victory.