Steve Oliver is enjoying Barnstaple’s revival of the old Ilfracombe spirit


STEVE Oliver can see parallels between his current team and the Ilfracombe Town side who twice finished third in the Toolstation Western League.

The goalkeeper was a key player in those successful 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. Now Oliver and former Ilfracombe manager Barry Yeo are on course for similar success with Barnstaple Town.

“I have always enjoyed playing with Barry,” said Oliver, 32, who joined from Bideford in the summer.

“I played with him at Torrington and Ilfracombe and he managed me at Ilfracombe.

“One of the big draws to come to Barnstaple was that I knew the social side would be really good. We are as close off the field as on. It’s very similar to Ilfracombe but a few lads have taken the football to another level.”

One of those is Oliver, who has kept 10 clean sheets in 17 appearances this season – including Saturday’s shutout against Bristol Manor Farm when he made a string of fine saves.

“There have been quite a few games where I have not been needed too much, so it was nice to contribute to a good win,” said Oliver.

“Probably the one that looked best was the one-on-one with Dean Stamp when I saved it with my legs. I got a little bit lucky because nine times out of 10 it probably goes in.”

Barnstaple are third in the Premier Division and look well placed to emulate Ilfracombe’s achievements – but Oliver said that is not in their minds.

“We haven’t got any targets, we just go out and enjoy it,” he said. “That’s why we’re doing so well – we’re not putting any pressure on ourselves.

“We feel like we can beat anybody on our day. But it can come crashing down at any moment so we have to carry on doing what we are doing.”

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