MINEHEAD picked up a deserved three points with a 2-0 win away to Paulton Rovers which lifted them towards a more respectable mid-table position.

A hectic Saturday morning of transfers saw manager Chris Porter release Paul Meare to Bridgwater and Gary Bennett return to the Irnham fold after a spell at Ilfracombe. His transfer was completed with minutes to spare, allowing him to join the team coach at Taunton.

The home team chose to play with the slope and wind in their favour, with the additional problem for the Blues of playing into bright sunlight in the first half.

As expected, Paulton started strongly and the Blues' defence, re-arranged with the absence of regulars Darren Knowling, Adrian Giblett and Dave Burr, were put under immense pressure.

However, Lee Ayres in goal was on top form and his positioning helped keep the home team out, aided by a number of off-the-line clearances by Lee Porter.

Gradually the Blues got into the match, and from an innocuous cross, the ball fell to Porter who side-footed home and gave the visitors the lead.

Paulton looked to have equalised minutes later when a fierce shot from Mark Buxton rattled the bar and bounced down, but it was adjudged not to have crossed the line.

The action continued at full pace with Minehead shading possession until half-time.

The Blues took advantage of the slope and wind to dominate the second half.

Damon Palfrey took control of the midfield and it was his astute through ball that split the Paulton defence for Nick Woon to increase his tally as top scorer to eight goals with a well-placed side-foot shot past the keeper.

Minehead never looked like losing their two-goal advantage with the back line of Alex Crook, Steve Nicholls and Andy Reader keeping things tight, giving keeper Ayres a much quieter second half.

Although not on the score sheet, Gareth Morgan gave by far his best performance since his return from Bridgwater in what was a fine effort by all the Minehead squad.

Chris Porter was able to give all his substitutes a run-out, Nick Stone replacing Nick Whyborn in the 70th minute with Shane Porter coming on for Mark McKenna and Gary Bennett back in a blue shirt in place of Woon minutes later.

Minehead's climb towards a mid-table position suggests they are coming to terms with Premier Division football with their rebuilt squad following the close season loss of key players, primarily to Taunton Town.

Minehead: Lee Ayres, Steve Nicholls, Andy Reader, Alex Crook, Nick Whyborn, Lee Porter, Gareth Morgan, Andy Payne, Nick Woon, Damon Palfrey, Mark McKenna; subs, Gary Bennett, Shane Porter, Nick Stone (all used).

l This weekend's home fixture with Westbury United has been moved to Sunday (kick-off 3 p.m.) because of the Scotland v England Euro 200 qualifier at Hampden Park tomorrow (Saturday).