Barnstaple Town’s 16-game winless streak in Evo-Stik League South West has come to an end

Barnstaple Town brought a 16-game winless run in Evo-Stik League South West to an end on Saturday against high fliers Salisbury.

Billy Hopcroft’s goal on the hour was enough for Barum to come away from the Raymond McEnhill Stadium with three points, an undoubted confidence boost and a first win under managers Kevin Darch and Dave Griffiths.

It was also the perfect tonic to a dissapointing 3-0 defeat at home to Totton four days earlier.

“Obviously it’s a massive three points that we needed, but almost more importantly than the result was the performance, the way we played and the desire to get that result,” said Darch.

“Everyone played to their maximum.

“We would have been happy to nick a draw, but it was more pleasing they had that amount of effort and determination in the game.

“If we maintain those levels I would be confident we could pick up the points we need.

“It’s down to the lads to do it for 90 minutes.

“It’s probably the second time we’ve played and kept our concentration for the whole 90, and we’ve got results on both of those occasions, the other one being the draw at Bideford.

“It shows them what’s achievable if they manage to put the effort in, and it should give them a bit of belief.”

Barum hadn’t won in the league since a 5-1 victory at Bishops Cleeve on October 14.

With that in mind, no one would have been expecting Barum to get anything at Salisbury.

Steve Claridge’s side had won their last seven going into the game – eight of their last nine – and looked ironed on for second spot in League South West.

Rob Holmes made a couple of stops for the visitors in the first half, including tipping a Stuart Green effort over the bar seven minutes before half time.

Hopcroft gave Barum the lead 15 minutes into the second half after a bit of good fortune.

A ball through the middle went through to goalkeeper Tom Roberts to clear, but he miscued the clearance, and sent it straight back into the path of the Barnstaple striker, leaving him nothing to do but roll the ball into the empty net.

Salisbury had a few chances in the wake of the goal, first Kane OKeefe headed wide from a Tom Whelan corner. Claudio Herbert also saw a headed chance go begging.

Tallan Mitchell had a chance to extend the visitors’ lead, but saw his half-volley from the edge of the box go off target.

Hopcroft deservedly drew plaudits with his performance.

Darch said: “I don’t know how many miles he covered, but it was a fair few.

“He gave absolutely everything and he just kept going.

“He’s phenomenal and he was the catalyst for the performance.

“He started it all, working so hard up front on his own and everyone else followed his lead.”

Saturday’s three points and losses for both Mangotsfield United and Slimbridge make the league table slightly easier reading.

Four points lie between Barum and Mangotsfied, with the two sides due to meet on Tuesday at Mill Road.

Before then Barum welcome Evesham United to Mill Road on Saturday.

They’ll be without Sam Haynes, who has committments at Exeter, and Karl Rickard begins his suspension for the red card he was shown in the defeat to Totton last week.

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