Barnstaple Town were brought down to earth with an almighty thud in Evo-Stik League South West this afternoon (Saturday).
Four days after a storming midweek win over Paulton Rovers, Barum were beaten 4-1 by Winchester City at Mill Road.
Chris Ibbeson’s second-minute red card meant Barum spent almost the entire match with 10 men.
A double from Oli Bailey more-or-less put the home side to bed before half-time, with the striker taking the game out of reach after Billy Hopcroft had cancelled out Simba Mlambo’s opener.
Rob Flooks added to the visitors’ tally in the second half, but it had long been game over for Barnstaple.
With the league season soon to move into its third month, remarkably this was Barum’s first home game on a Saturday afternoon. Showing off their new home strip for the first time, they were immediately up against it.
A quick counter attack in the second minute of the game saw Rob Carr skip past the Barum defence and bear down on goal. Ibbeson slid in, taking nothing apart from the legs of the Winchester winger and forcing referee Andrew Evans to brandish his red card.
With Richard Pears’ side already a man down, they were soon put under the cosh by a quick Winchester attack.
Mlambo went close in the fifth minute, dinking the ball over the bar after getting on the end of Dan Williamson’s searching ball.
Two minutes later Mlambo broke the deadlock at the end of a well-worked move started by Carr. Skipping past Jordan Walton, he found Bailey, who after finding some room laid the ball up for Mlambo to tuck away.
The home-side got a brief foothold back on the game, with Hopcroft getting an equaliser minutes after Karl Rickard went close.
Hopcroft, a standout performer on an otherwise dank day for the home side, found the net after 18 minutes to end a flowing counter-attack. The forward ran at Joe Haywood and cut inside onto his right foot to fire the ball into the net.
The parity didn’t last long however, with Bailey restoring the visitors’ lead less than five minutes later.
The striker skipped past the Barnstaple defence, whose shouts for offside were rejected by the linesman, before blasting the ball past Grant Fisher and in.
Bailey took advantage of a miscued header from Kai Fisher to extend Winchester’s lead 10 minutes before the break. Intended as a clearance, the centre-back’s header looped up behind him, where the striker was waiting to send a well-timed lob over Grant Fisher in goal and into the top corner.
Fisher was hauled off at half-time, with Archie Reay brought into the midfield and Toby Radford accompanying Niall Heeney – another diamond in the rough – in defence for the second half.
After a first half with plenty of action, the second period passed without too many opportunities for either side, although the visitors saw plenty more of the ball.
Flooks got Winchester’s fourth halfway through the second half, powering in a header at the back post after getting on the end of Carr’s cross from the right.
Barnstaple Town: G Fisher, Humphreys, Walton, Gray, Ibbeson, K Fisher (Reay 46’), Radford, Heeney, Rickard (H Hopcroft 69), B Hopcroft (Setherton 66), Williams.
Subs not used: Darch, Pears.
Winchester City: Pryce, Williamson, King (Jenkinson 32), Tomasso, Flooks, Haywood, Mlambo (White 64’), Barrow, Bailey, Cox, Carr (Hill 68).
Subs not used: Davis.