Southern League preview: Barnstaple Town v Yate Town


When and where

Mill Road1

Mill Road. (Photo: Jay Smith)

Barnstaple Town’s first ever Southern League game takes place at Mill Road tomorrow (3pm).

The opponents

Yate Town1

Yate Town. (Photo: Dave Betts)

Yate Town, also known as the Bluebells, were relegated from the Premier Division in the 2008-09 season and have been in Division One South and West ever since.

They have twice come within one place of a play-off spot – in 2012-13 and 2014-15 – but will be looking to improve upon last season’s 16th place.

Yate have had a mixed pre-season, with a 6-1 win over Brislington and defeats to Western League sides Bradford Town and Bristol Manor Farm among the results.

One to watch

James Blake3333

James Blake

The former Willand Rovers man will be in line to make his first competitive start for Barnstaple tomorrow.

Blake is a powerful striker, who netted 50 goals in 62 games in the Western League for Willand, and can bring a lot to the table at Mill Road.

Having played at this level with Taunton Town for three years, Blake isn’t short of the experience either.

His partnership with Barum hot-shot Ryan Turner will be key and the “little-and-large” combination means they should complement each other well.

What the manager said

Barry Yeo3333

Barry Yeo (Photo: Rob Tibbles)

“The whole situation of us coming up to the Southern League, it was crying out for us to have a home game first,” said Barry Yeo.

“We want to make the most of it, we hope people will turn out and watch what will be a really tough game.

“Come Saturday we will be ready, we have done all the preparation and we go into it fresh and really excited it.

“We are going to have to work extremely hard for every point we get, but we are up for the challenge.”

Barum’s last five opening-day games

August 8, 2015 – Western League: Barnstaple Town 2 (Jenkins, Turner) Bradford Town 1

August 9, 2014 – Western League: Ashton and Backwell United 0 Barnstaple Town 5 (Pearse 2, Tucker, Turner, Francis)

August 10, 2013 – Western League: Barnstaple Town 8 (Francis, Kowal 2, Turner 3, Tucker, Sharp) Corsham Town 1

August 4, 2012 – Western League: Barnstaple Town 1 (Ingham) Bridport 2

August 13, 2011 – Western League: Hallen 3 Barnstaple Town 1 (Armstrong)

Final thoughts

There will be something of a party atmosphere at Mill Road tomorrow as the ground hosts its first ever Southern League game.

Back-to-back promotions from the Western League is a tremendous achievement from Yeo and his players, but the Southern League is a whole different level.

A winning start is vital for Barnstaple, with Taunton, Swindon, Paulton, Hereford and Bideford to follow – they don’t want to be chasing the points early on.

Yate will provide a stern test, but with their momentum Barnstaple could just edge this one.

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