Barnstaple Town 1 Odd Down 2: Toolstation Western league match report

NDJ

It was a decision as early as the seventh minute of the game that arguably swung this promotion clash in favour of Odd Down.

Barnstaple Town went into the contest third in the Toolstation Western League Premier Division, a place and two points behind their visitors, but that gap was widened as Odd Down left North Devon with a 2-1 win.

Barry Yeo’s men couldn’t have wished for a better first five minutes, Jed Harper-Penman firing them ahead with less than a minute on the clock.

But they will not look back fondly on what followed six minutes later, Aaron Harper-Penman harshly shown a straight red card for allegedly manhandling Troy Simpson. Kye Simpson buried the resulting free-kick.

Lee Bridson got the winner before the break as the home side ended the 90 minutes with nine men, James Mayne also given his marching orders for going in late on Matt Guy.

As starts go, it was just about perfect from Barnstaple as Jed Harper-Penman collected the ball 25 yards out, took aim and – via some soft hands by Alex Nash in the Odd Down goal – found the top corner after 50 seconds.

There was a Harper-Penman in the thick of the action six minutes later, but this time brother Aaron was adjudged to have pulled back Troy Simpson when one-on-one. It looked harsh but the referee brandished a straight red.

Worse was to follow as Kye Simpson curled the resulting free-kick high past Steve Oliver.

After a full-throttle start, the tempo settled somewhat with Odd Down looking to make their numerical advantage count. Guy almost did after 17 minutes but his header from Adnan Hirolo’s corner was too close to Oliver.

Town were determined not to let their disadvantage in numbers count – Jed Harper Penman twice firing wide – but it was the visitors posing more of an attacking threat.

Cory Simpson was causing all sorts of problems down the left as he cut into the box and curled wide after 36 minutes. Just two minutes later, Odd Down took the lead.

Captain Bridson climbed highest from Hiroli’s corner and powered home a header via the underside of the bar.

Hiroli almost got in on the act himself three minutes before the break when his shot clipped the outside of the post, while Liam Gregory’s cross-cum-shot down the other end flew inches past Nash’s goal.

Despite dominating the early exchanges of the second half, Barnstaple failed to test Nash and it was Odd Down who could have extended the lead with both Kye and Troy Simpson coming close – the latter forcing a smart save from Oliver.

If playing with ten men was hard enough, nine made it almost an impossible task as Mayne received a straight red card for going in late on Guy.

And so it proved as – try as they did – Town just came up short.

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