BARNSTAPLE Town were back to their best tonight as they beat in-form Willand Rovers 2-0 at Mill Road.
Willand were looking to stretch their run without a Toolstation Western League defeat to 12 games, but two goals direct from Liam Gregory corners gave the home side just their second win of 2016.
In an end-to-end first half it was easy to see why both teams were challenging at the right end of the Premier Division.
Willand perhaps started the brighter as James Blake’s low effort was saved, the same man then fired wide at the near post and Tom Bath flicked Ryan Guppy’s low cross just wide.
But despite being on an unbeaten league run of 11 games, Willand had goalkeeper Kurtis Parkin to thank after 16 minutes when arguably the best chance of the half fell to Scott Huxtable after Jed Harper-Penman squared to him in the box. The marauding wing-back hit it hard enough, but Parkin was equal to it and beat the ball away.
There was no lack of confidence from a Barum side with one win this calendar year. Craig Allan, on his home debut, looped a header over and Shaun Copp volleyed the wrong side of the post from the edge of the D.
A half-time downpour had threatened to disrupt the quality of the second half, but no one told Barnstaple that as they showed their intent from the off with Gregory fizzing one wide – that after Bath fluffed the chance of the match when he inexplicably missed the target when one-on-one.
The opener came after 55 minutes and while confusion reigned as to who got the goal – Gregory’s corner was flapped at by Parkin and ended up in the back of the net – Barnstaple did not care as they were on their way to a much-needed three points.
Those points were wrapped up five minutes from the end. Gregory, again, with an inswinging corner from the right. Same result. This time his delivery flew straight in with Parkin, the former Ilfracombe Town keeper, hardly covering himself in any glory.
arnstaple Town (3-5-2): Steve Oliver; James Mayne, Aaron Harper-Penman, Craig Allan; Scott Huxtable (Steve Holland 86), Liam Gregory, Jed Harper-Penman (Jack Jenkins 76), Niall Heeney, Lee Francis; Shaun Copp, Ryan Turner (Jon Vooght 90). Subs not used: Jimmy Thorne, Dominic Rivans.
Willand Rovers (4-3-2-1): Kurtis Parkin; Joe Curtis, Steve Orchard, Toby Down, Ryan Guppy; Ian Datchett, Brett Worbey; Aidan Moyle (Luke Alden 64), Rikki Shepherd, James Blake; Tom Bath (Luke Durham 62). Subs not used: David Steele, Chris Abbott.
Referee: Lee Roberts.