Les Phillips Cup Quarter Final: Bridgwater United 1-4 Barnstaple Town

After five consecutive away trips ‘The Robins’ finally made a return to Fairfax Park looking to progress to the semi-finals of the Les Phillips Cup, writes Bob Buckingham.

Despite the adverse weather conditions the Grounds Team had, once again, produced an excellent playing surface conducive to the style of football the home supporters had become accustomed this season.

What followed, was a particularly uneventful first 45 minutes with neither side able to create much in the way of goal scoring opportunities. This was in total contrast to the events at Mill Road back in August when Barum led 3-1 at the break, only to be pegged back to 4-4 for the Robins only draw of the season so far.

So, what might be expected in the second period? The visitors had left 5 regular starters on the bench, with United doing likewise with Phillips, Newman, Quick, Williams and Wright getting starts.

The second period began in pouring rain with, once again, little to choose between the sides. However, with an hour gone, all was about to change as Billy Tucker and Tor Swann entered the fray and made an immediate impact. On 66 minutes a well weighted ball reached Charlie Prentice to the right of the area whose unapposed cross was headed home by Montague. 0-1.

Immediately from the kick-off, a through ball found the speedy Harvey Dorothy who poked the ball home to double the visitors lead. 0-2.

Despite this double blow, there encouraging signs that United might yet respond effectively. Within 5 minutes a well worked attack saw the marauding Adam Wright brought down in the box, much to the displeasure of substitute Matt Bye who was sent for an early shower for dissent. Wright converted with ease. 1-2.

With the deficit halved and 15 minutes remaining, here was an opportunity for United to get back on terms. The visitors clearly had other ideas as they responded positively, upping the tempo, and creating havoc in the home defence. Within a 90 second spell, it was that man Dorothy who twice broke clear to stroke the ball past the exposed Isaac Finch to put his side in the semi-final.

Not content with a three-goal advantage, Barum continued to press forward looking for further reward. Once again it was Dorothy causing mayhem as he reached the edge of the area only to be brought down by Finch who was immediately sent off. Jason Quick donned the gloves and confidently saw out the remaining minutes.

Very clearly, the concession of 4 second half goals in successive games is cause for concern as United continue to chase their ambition to reach the quarter finals of the Isuzu FA Vase for the first time and ensure, as a minimum, a top 5 place in the Western League Premier.