Manor Farm were good value for their first victory of the season – overcoming Barnstaple Town in an entertaining game at Mill Road on Tuesday night. The manner in which Farm went about their business will have come as a welcome boost to Lee Lashenko following his teams disappointing home defeat on the opening day against Cirencester last Saturday.
With Jack Durrant restored to the heart of The Portwaymen’s midfield, Farm took the game to their hosts from the off. A front three of Dean Stamp, Troy Simpson and Owen Howe all looked lively in the games opening five minutes and having all got behind the back four during this period it was little surprise that the visitors took the lead with just 8 minutes on the clock.
A long clearance from goalkeeper Ben John was flicked on via Troy Simpson’s head into the inside left channel where it looked for all the world that Barnstaple ‘keeper Ben Holmes would be able to gather the ball safely on the edge of his own penalty area but Dean Stamp brilliantly chased him down, out-muscled and dispossessed him before hitting a fierce shot into the net from an acute angle via a deflection. Advantage Farm.
Manor Farm continued to exert pressure and Troy Simpson was unlucky not to score following a good strong run from the byline that saw his shot deflected away for a corner. Then all of a sudden Barnstaple gained parity out of nowhere when James Dark scored with a powerful near post header from close range following a corner in the 17th minute. Honours even.
For all their early dominance, Manor Farm had to really dig in now as the game developed nicely into an end-to-end battle. Jay Adams, energetic all over the park once again for the visitors, produced an excellent saving block tackle from a rebound that looked to be sending two Barnstaple attackers clear.
A Jordan Metters free-kick from the left hand side on 23 minutes whistled just past a group of runners into the six yard box but also wide of the back post and just before the half hour mark it was Jordan Jones for the home side who saw his shot glide over the visitors bar.
Bang on 30 minutes Metters did well getting to the byline before whipping in a fine cross that was headed just over the Barnstaple bar by Dean Stamp and four minutes later a shot by Barnstaple’s Ross Middleton looped up and clipped the top of the Farm crossbar. Ben Holmes saved well with his feet from Stamp moments later to force a corner which resulted in Farm centre-half Lloyd Mills scooping the ball up over the bar from six yards out.
Manor Farm regrouped at the break and started the second half in much the same way they’d begun the first – on the front foot and playing with high intensity. This approach brought immediate reward when Dean Stamp bustled his way into the penalty area before being clearly fouled. Up stepped Owen Howe who duly smashed the spot kick past Holmes for his second goal of the season to restore Farm’s lead at 2-1.
The visitors kept the pressure up with Troy Simpson bringing a good save from Holmes through a crowd of players on the hour mark and the Barnstaple rearguard clearing the ball on a number of occasions from deep in their six yard box. Farm’s overall dominance throughout the half was tested during a nervy last few minutes with Ben John making a fantastic save in the 87th minute to deny Barnstaple substitute Whitecross.
The full time whistle was finally greeted with joy and no small amount of relief by the travelling Farmy Army – noisy in their support for the visitors all night – and it was a nice touch when the players came over to acknowledge the supporters and celebrate a hard-fought but thoroughly deserved first three points of the season together before making the long journey back up the M5 to Bristol. The Farm are up and running…
STAR MAN (Jack Durrant, Bristol Manor Farm)
1 x Dean Stamp
1 x Owen Howe