Minehead laboured to their eighth win in nine unbeaten matches against a spirited and belligerent Combe St Nicholas team who fought gallantly until the very end of the 90 minutes – a different story to the one-sided Minehead 6-0 victory in South Somerset six games ago.
During the first 20 minutes it was Minehead’s Sam Tarr who was the busier of the two keepers and early on visiting centre forward Adam Smith went close when his header beat the advancing Tarr but went just over the angle of post and crossbar.
The Blues seemed to spring into some form, and on 22 minutes Guy Burns burst through the defence and from an acute angle his cross beat the keeper but a stretching Stefan Phillips saw his header drift wide of the goal frame. The ball was just kept in play and found its way back to the oncoming Luke Bloys who struck home sweetly from just outside the box to give Minehead the lead.
With Minehead seemingly gaining an element of control over the proceedings it was uncharacteristic poor control from captain Mike Mullen which presented an opportunity to Smith, who expertly lobbed Tarr from all of 35 yards to level the scores towards the end of the first half.
Minehead turned up the pressure after the break, during which the visitors held on doggedly without causing the home defence any real problems.
Matty Ronan’s speculative effort from 30 yards was well held by Neil Holt and an opportunity fell to Mullen but his shot was wide. Coming on as fresh legs the pacey Rob Vickers soon made his presence felt in the visitors’ box. Twice he bore down on the keeper and appeared blatantly pushed from behind on both occasions with the referee waving away the home teams’ confident claims. On a third occasion a slick inter-change with Phillips this time saw Vickers facing the keeper ahead of any defenders’ reach, but his shot from 10 yards was straight at Holt.
Mid-way through the second half it was Phillips who fittingly became the match winner for the Blues on his 200th appearance for the club, curling a central free kick from 25 yards into the top right hand corner of the net well out of Holt’s reach to put the home side back in front.
Minehead looked more likely to add to their slender lead rather than relinquish it again, but Combe remained compact and were a tough nut to crack on this occasion.
Minehead: Sam Tarr, Callum Barnfield, Mike Graddon, Mike Mullen, Matt Cracknell, Chris Newbold, Luke Bloys, Matty Ronan, Darren Sherring, Stefan Phillips, Guy Burns
Subs: Tristan Hawkins, Rob Vickers (both used), Branden Simsek
Gerry Hatrick Man of the Match: Matt Cracknell
This Saturday Minehead face a strong, third placed Worle side, who won by a remarkable 22-0 scoreline last weekend against Berrow & Highbridge. This will severely test Minehead’s resolve, who have now climbed up to 5th position in the league table. The match kicks off at Irnham Road at 3pm.