Ilfracombe Town clash with Willand Rovers is one to forget for Craig Allan and fans
AT THE fifth time of asking Ilfracombe Town hosted Willand Rovers in the Toolstation Western League, writes Andrew Jones.
Perhaps they should not have bothered
The match will not live long in the memories of the 42 spectators who braved the cold at Marlborough Park on Tuesday evening.
As they thawed out at home, they might even have wished it had gone the way of the previous four attempts and been postponed.
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Craig Allan, too, will want to quickly forget it.
Handed the game's best opening from a deflected cross in the 71st minute, the Ilfracombe defender put a free header wide.
It was the one blot on the performance from Allan, who was composed at the back alongside Gary Skinner.
After some shaky early moments, they dealt well with Willand's attacking threat – or what there was of it.
The Marlborough Park pitch has taken such a battering that the players had to watch the ball like a tailend batsman facing a mystery spinner.
So it was no surprise the closest either side came to a goal was with a header.
Ten minutes before Allan's miss, Danny Jee, the Willand captain, flashed a headed effort wide from a corner.
Willand, fourth from bottom of the premier division, were marginally the better side in the first half an hour with Steve Orchard having a shot blocked by Ross Middleton and Jake Wannell driving just over.
Shaun Lewis had the clearest opening of the half, though, when he chased on to Billy Tucker's header.
It was a classic Lewis position but the striker almost got too much on his finish and pushed the ball wide.
Ten minutes from time, Shaun Copp seemed surprised when the ball dropped to him with time and space on the edge of the area.
Seemingly in several minds about what to do, the substitute shunted the ball wide.
Dan Kenyon then made a strong block tackle on Lee Francis after Ilfracombe counter-attacked through Lewis.
And finally, in the third minute of injury time, Steve Oliver, the home goalkeeper, was forced to make his first genuine save as he dropped to his left to stop a stabbed shot by Owen Howe.
Steve Holland's fifth goal of the season was scant reward for Ilfracombe's second-half performance in a 3-1 defeat at Melksham Town on Saturday.
Having gone 2-0 down before the break to Gary Higdon's double, Ilfracombe dominated the second 45 minutes.
Holland popped up at the back post to head in Shaun Copp's cross on 74 minutes.
But Melksham made the points safe in stoppage time with a goal from substitute Josh Robinson.
Ilfracombe will be at home to Winterbourne United in the quarter-finals of the Les Phillips Cup, sponsored by Termination Technology, on Saturday, March 16, if they make it through the third-round tie at Larkhall Athletic on Saturday, March 2.