Somerset Division One: Minehead 3-1 Watchet Town

THE first league derby for eight seasons brought Watchet’s Red & Blacks to Irnham Road on Saturday, along with a bumper Bank Holiday weekend crowd of 322.

On this occasion it was The Blues who ended the game victorious, recording their first home league win over their rivals since the day they returned to the Somerset County League in August 2015.

With Minehead’s three goalkeepers unavailable, their former Western League shot stopper Nathan Sheehan came to their rescue having last appeared for the Blues in 2017, and he demonstrated his experience and ability with good handling and decision making throughout.

In a competitive game from the outset both sides showed a desire to attack, with Minehead’s Guy Burns going closest early on when a lob with his back to goal from just inside the box beat Watchet’s keeper Adam Bishop but just cleared the bar.

Shortly afterwards the visitors opened the scoring when good work by Adam Jefferies just inside his own half gave Riley Willis the chance to break along the top line and his cross come shot was despatched at the far post by Billy Jones.

Minehead were soon back in the game when a direct run inside the Watchet box by Rob Vickers saw him tripped having just reached the ball before a challenge from a defender came in, and the dependable Stefan Phillips equalised from the spot.

Matty Trump, whose trickery on the ball was a thorn in Watchet’s side throughout, saw his goal bound shot ricochet off a defender with Bishop seemingly beaten, and towards the end of the half it was the impressive Bishop who denied Rob Vickers when he made a fine left-handed save near the foot of the post.

Early in the second half Phillips’ free kick from 25 yards curled inches wide into the side-netting as Minehead looked to make their marginal superiority count but with tempers rising an off the ball incident resulted in Watchet’s Riley Willis being shown a red card, leaving Minehead with the advantage of an extra man.

Despite a double substitution by Watchet which introduced fresh legs in Cody Truscott and Connor Jeromson, Minehead took the lead with twenty minutes remaining when playmaker Phillips put Benn Bartlett through on goal to slot home passed Bishop from fifteen yards.

Jeromson then picked up a yellow card for an over-zealous challenge on Trump, and shortly afterwards, his remonstrating with the referee after a penalty was awarded when Burns was pulled down inside the box by the last defender, saw him receive a second yellow leaving his team with just eight outfield players.

Phillips scored from the spot to make it 3-1 and give Minehead three points which takes them to the top of the table, though they have played one game more than some of the chasing pack.

Next week sees The Blues at home again when they host Radstock Town Reserves in first round of the Somerset Senior Cup, kicking off at 2pm.