Ilfracombe defender James Mayne suffers broken cheekbone
JUST as one reliable player announced he was back, Ilfracombe Town had to face up to the loss of another.
Shaun Lewis stepped off the bench to hit the late winner against Longwell Green Sports in the Toolstation Western League.
But Combe look set to be without James Mayne for six weeks after the defender suffered a broken cheekbone.
It was an eventful last ten minutes to a physical clash at Marlborough Park and Mayne's collision summed up the commitment on show.
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Ahead of games at Wells City on Saturday and at home to Bridport on Tuesday, manager Ross Middleton must reorganise his back four.
The loss of Mayne was tempered, at least, by the return of fellow defender Craig Allan from a three-match suspension.
Middleton is not short on options in central defence with Karl Baggaley, Gary Skinner and Kane Dryden also capable of playing there. But Mayne's leadership and experience will be missed at a busy time of the season.
"That was the downer on the day," said Middleton.
"Mayner got there bravely, knowing the lad was charging right at him. It wasn't intentional.
"It was a hell of a crack and he's not the type to roll around on the floor for nothing."
Moments earlier, Lewis had made his presence felt with his long-awaited first goal of the season.
Sent on up front in place of Ed Yeo for the closing stages, the striker turned in a shot from Billy Tucker from close range.
With limited appearances this season due to work and family commitments, Lewis finally got his first goal since his hat-trick against Wells in March.
"He's been a frustrated figure, to say the least," said Middleton.
"I have never seen anyone have so many shots hit the post or be cleared off the line. He's been so unlucky."
After struggling to create much in the first half, Ilfracombe offered more threat in the second with Tucker causing problems on the wing.
Ryan Turner cut inside and had a shot saved and, after an excellent first touch, Ed Yeo blasted an effort over the bar.
Longwell were rarely able to test Steve Oliver, the Ilfracombe keeper.
Tuesday's scheduled home game against Willand Rovers had to be postponed because a problem with one of the floodlights.