ILMINSTER Town were “happy with a mid-table finish”, after an up-and-down season.

The Blues lost four of their opening five games, but ended up 11th out of 17 teams in the Somerset County League’s Premier Division as the season was brought to a premature end by the coronavirus pandemic.

Andy Fish - Ilminster’s record goalscorer, now involved behind the scenes at the club - told the Chard & Ilminster News: “It was a difficult summer [of 2019] for us.

“Our manager Andy Dyke had done so well the season before - achieving a record finish in the Premier Division - but he had too much on with his job.

“The team seemed to lose focus, and we lost four of our first five games.

“Charlie Rutter took over and the results improved, as we went 10 games unbeaten.

“But one of the wettest winters we’ve had meant that we weren’t playing and the momentum was lost.

“We had looked like a great team and were playing some great football.”

Injuries took their toll as well, piling up towards the end of the season and contributing to the Blues losing their last four games before the league was halted.

Lewis Rutter had been out since pre-season, but after knee surgery he hopes to be back at some point next season.

Club captain Jonny May returned from a knee injury to put in a man of the match display in a 0-0 draw with table-topping Shirehampton - but then suffered a reoccurance of his injury.

Carl Lazenby, Brad Pitman and Doug Whitfield were also sidelined towards the end of the campaign.

The worst news came for loyal club servant Andy Whitefield, who scored 51 goals in 205 games for Ilminster as a wide player or forward, as injury has forced him to retire.

Summing up the campaign, Fish said: “We are happy with a mid-table finish given the start to the season we had.

“Charlie Rutter deserves a lot of credit for the turnaround, and he was helped by the return of Will Spurway from Axminster and Josh Phillips from Bridport.”

It’s not known how long the coronavirus shutdown will last - meaning clubs cannot plan their pre-season with any conviction yet - and it has also hit club finances.

“Looking forward, the loss of major fundraising events is a problem for the club,” Fish added.

“It’s put us back in terms of bringing in a new manager.

“But two managers with previous experience at this level have applied.

“We can’t meet them face-to-face yet, but we have a shortlist of three.”