Barnstaple Town were unable to make it back-to-back wins in Evo-Stik League South West this afternoon (Saturday), going down 3-0 to visiting Slimbridge.
In a game dominated by the wet and windy conditions, goals from Marley Thomas and Adam Mace in the first half put the visitors on the front foot. Joe Wilton wrapped up the win with 14 minutes remaining.
The home side were denied a would-be consolation goal in the dying minutes when Lloyd Gardner’s penalty was touched onto the crossbar by Oliver Hall.
The result takes Barnstaple back down to 19th in League South West, with one win from five home matches.
Conditions at Mill Road were horrendous. The rain and wind brought by Storm Brian had a huge bearing on the game, with gusts blowing down the pitch. Barnstaple chose to play against the wind in the first half, a decision which may have cost them in hindsight.
Thomas broke the deadlock on 27 minutes, finishing off a quick attack which started from a Barnstaple goal kick.
After Mike Humphreys gave up possession, the Slimbridge attack moved quickly. A pacey ball to the far post was met by Max Harper-Emerson, and Thomas was there to finish the move, blasting the ball past goalkeeper Neal Osborn and into the top corner.
Five minutes later the visitors doubled their lead. Wilton got in behind the Barum defence and forced Osborn into a low save. Thomas followed up but was unable to get a shot off, but Mace didn’t have that problem, tucking the ball away into the far corner.
Despite being hemmed in by the wind, Barnstaple had their chances. Jed Harper-Penman was often at the centre of the home side’s attacks, whether it was a cross for a Jordan Charran header deflected wide; or releasing Jordan Walton to put a ball across to Tony Radford, who shot just over the bar.
With the wind behind them in the second half, Barum went more direct. Manager Richard Pears switched to a 3-5-2, with Billy Hopcroft and Alex Gray coming on. Tallan Mitchell and Humphreys made way as Radford moved into the back three.
As Barnstaple pushed for a goal and played higher up the pitch, the visitors were able to hit them on the break.
Thomas, who played the conditions excellently all afternoon, could and should have got his second when left with a simple tap in at the back post, but fluffed his lines.
They eventually got their goal on the break after 76 minutes. Wilton burst clear in the Barnstaple half, and left one on one with Osborn, sent a low shot into the bottom left corner to seal the win.
The home side were given a glimmer of hope in the dying minutes when Alex Hoyle brought down Charran for a penalty, but Gardner’s thumping strike got a touch from Hall before cannoning off the crossbar and out of play.