BARNSTAPLE Town advanced to the Emirates FA Cup preliminary round with a 2-0 victory over Evo-Stik League Southern Division One side Bridgwater Town.
Ryan Turner scored twice in the first half and Barnstaple progressed despite substitute Niall Heeney being sent off in the 81st minute – six minutes after his introduction to the game.
Turner displayed a glimpse of his quality after two minutes as he latched on to a Jack Jenkins through-ball and had his effort saved. Dave Pearse almost scrambled the ball home on the line.
Two minutes later, Barnstaple’s direct approach paid off as the ball was launched out wide and Jed Harper-Penman found an unmarked Turner in the box to head the opener.
As the visitors tried to find some momentum, Barnstaple looked relaxed at the back and cleared their lines when needed, looking for targetman Pearse or the clever runs of Turner.
Having seen little of the ball for a 10-minute spell, Barum scored their second goal from a brilliant Jenkins free-kick on 23 minutes. The ball arced into the box at pace and was flicked on by Pearse before Bridgwater keeper Jake Viney fumbled it and Turner lashed a shot into the net.
Josh Wadham looked threatening with the ball at his feet out wide but the Bridgwater player’s frustration turned into anger as he kicked out at Ross Jones and Liam Gregory and narrowly avoided a straight red card.
In the second half, Barnstaple were straight back at the throat of their higher-division opponents. Harper-Penman’s deep corner was nodded back across goal by his brother Aaron and almost converted by Jenkins.
It could have been 3-0 after 56 minutes as another dangerous corner forced Viney into an error, dropping the ball on to White’s head from where it ricochet into the back of the net, only for the referee to blow for a foul.
Barnstaple remained disciplined as the visitors saw more of the ball but could not find a gap in a tight back four.
Heeney was put on to help see out the game but, six minutes after his introduction, the midfielder was sent off for a late challenge on the left wing.
However, even with 10 men nothing changed for Barnstaple who were resolute in defence and had a meticulous workrate from the front.
Their reward for today’s win is an away tie in first round qualifying against Southern Premier Division side Poole Town on September 12th.