BARNSTAPLE Town equalled a 22-year record this afternoon as they beat Longwell Green Sports at Mill Road.
Not since the 1993-94 season had Barum won nine league games in a row. But thanks to a goal in each half from Aaron Harper-Penman and Dave Pearse, Barnstaple matched their previous best with another 2-0 victory.
The result – which could have been larger had it not been for a resolute Longwell defence – also lifted Town above Bristol Manor Farm and into second in the Toolstation Western League Premier Division with just eight games left.
Longwell have notoriously played better away this season – five of their six league wins have been on the road – but their start couldn’t have been much worse.
It took Barum just eight minutes to open the deadlock as Liam Gregory’s in-swinging corner from the right was headed home from inside the six-yard box by captain Harper-Penman.
After proving his worth in his regular defensive capacity on Easter Monday in the 2-1 win against Buckland Athletic, it was down the other end where the skipper made his name this afternoon.
It was from set-pieces where Barnstaple looked most dangerous, 12 minutes were on the clock when Will Nicholls flicked on Jed Harper-Penman’s corner into the path of Shaun Copp who headed over.
A 20-minute spell in the middle of the half saw the ball spend the majority of time in and around the centre-circle as the visitors looked to soak up any pressure from their hosts. They were indebted to keeper Ben Reed five minutes before the break, though, as James Mayne’s powerful header was expertly tipped over.
Steve Oliver was called into action for the first time three minutes after the break when Jack Rhys-Jones fed Toby Clifton inside the box but his strike was palmed behind at the near post.
Fresh from a brace against Buckland, Pearse should have doubled the lead when the referee played the advantage for a foul on Gregory, Copp threaded the forward in and he did the hard bit by taking it round Reed, but hit the side-netting.
However Pearse wasn’t to be denied a second time as he charged down Reed’s hashed clearance and as the ball looped up in the air, the Town forward reacted quickest to head into an empty net.
There was still time for substitute Ryan Turner – recovering from a hamstring injury – to nod Copp’s cross inches wide, but the points were already wrapped up as Barnstaple matched the long-standing record.
Barnstaple Town (3-5-2): Steve Oliver; Scott Huxtable, Aaron Harper-Penman (C), James Mayne; Jed Harper-Penman (Dominic Reeves 82), Lee Francis, Jack Jenkins, Shaun Copp, Liam Gregory; Will Nicholls (Scott Sharp 64), Dave Pearse (Ryan Turner 79). Subs not used: Jimmy Thorne.
Longwell Green Sports (4-3-3): Ben Reed; Kieron Campbell, George Thrushell, James Pocock, Ryan Gardiner (C); Connor Davies, Ross Beazer (Stuart Harmer 82), Toby Clifton (Jacob Watson 71); Taylor McCormick, Jack Rhys-Jones, Liam Oswin (Darnel Sinclair 78). Subs not used: Andy Summers