Bridgwater United 2 Barnstaple Town 1

The Robins continued where they left off at Helston with another stunning first half performance which left much fancied Barnstaple Town reeling inside 15 minutes and paved the way for a spot at the top of the Western League Premier Division.

An impressive Tuesday night crowd of more than 500 saw Dave Pearse’s unchanged squad tear into Barum and on nine minutes Jack Taylor’s pace was too much for the visiting defence and his cross caused confusion between Callum Deemer and Liam Kingston and the ball ended up in the back of the net.

Just as on Saturday, Bridgwater’s pace and intensity did not allow Barum any time on the ball and when Tom Llewellyn slung in another wicked corner from the left, Conor Hartley got the faintest touch for his first goal for the club on his home debut to make it 2-0 with less than a quarter of an hour gone.

Jake Brown then headed over another Jake Lewellyn free-kick before Taylor’s first time pass sent Hartley away and his powerful drive was saved by Kingston.

Tor Swann then escaped the defensive clutches but a perfectly timed tackle by the impressive Jordan Greenwood saved the day before Billy Tucker’s cross soon after evaded both Ryan Turner and Swann. The Robins went off the boil briefly just before the break and were given a stern wake up call when the ball was given away and Tucker broke clear to lob Jake Viney from 18 yards and half the deficit.

Barnstaple introduced Stuart Bowker at half-time but it was Jake Brown who went close straight from the restart as his cross shot was kept out by Kingston then Tom Llewellyn was inches wide with a right foot drive from 20 yards. Barnstaple were far from finished and Callum Davey’s header brought a fabulous save out of Viney which brought a bunch of substitutions with Mike Duffy, Ollie Hebbard, George King and Josh Phillips all entering the play.

The second half became scrappy and tense and referee Mike Holford worked hard to keep the caution count down, with only Taylor going in for a rash challenge on Kingston but Bridgy almost wrapped up the points when in the best move of the half Taylor and Hebbard exchanged passes and after Taylor’s drive was blocked, King curled the rebound just over.

In the end it mattered not as they hung on to collect the three points and lead the table with maximum points alongside Buckland Athletic, Sherborne Town and Shepton Mallet. All eyes are now on Saturday as the squad travels to Southern League Bideford for the extra-preliminary round of the FA Cup. The FA have re-introduced replays and should the game end in a draw the second game will be at Fairfax Park on Tuesday which will mean the Keynsham Town game will be postponed.