MINEHEAD narrowly lost 2-1 away to fellow mid-table side Yatton and Cleeve United on Saturday.
The two teams conjured up a competitive and exciting Somerset County League First Division West game despite Storm Brian, and there was another new role for “all-rounder” Darren Sherring as he added goalkeeper to the positions he has played this year.
On five minutes Mike Graddon, making a welcome return in an attacking midfield role,forced a reflex parry from Yatton keeper Sam Hockin-Bailey, who repeated the feat from the follow up shot, and the ball was quickly moved upfield and led to the first save of many from Sherring with Graddon somehow appearing on the line to clear the loose ball.
That began a sequence of corners for Yatton, and the Blues needed deflections and last-ditch clearances and tackles from defenders Callum Barnfield, Mike Mullen, Matt Cracknell, Luke Bloys and Graddon again as the home side pressed.
Minehead were having to counter, and a link-up between Guy Burns and Branden Simsek, who ran with the wind to catch the ball in the corner, ended with Graddon firing across the face of goal.
At the other end, Sherring, drafted in to cover for absent keepers Sheehan, Tarr and Wilkins, made an exquisite save low to his right, diving like a slip fielder to turn a goal-bound shot round the post.
As he warmed to the task, his heroics became more frequent as the defence battled to cope with a speedy attack, but it was Minehead who had the best chance of the half when Luke Bloys and Simsek made an opening for Graddon who was pushed over to earn a penalty, but Burns thumped the spot-kick onto the bar.
Much changed in the second half as conditions worsened, and after bringing more saves out of Sherring early on, Yatton slowed up and gave midfielders Harry Scatchard and Chris Newbold more freedom ,and they in turn gave Rob Vickers more potency with balls to run on to.
Bloys earned a free-kick which Burns crossed for Vickers, who hit the bar after a goalmouth scramble, then a typical piece of Burns magic saw him weave past two defenders and the keeper, only to put the ball just wide of goal.
It was Yatton who broke the deadlock with a counter attack after 70 minutes, winger Sam Morris netting in another goalmouth scramble after a further Sherring save and Barnfield nearly hooking the ball off the line.
With only five minutes to go, the Blues were stunned by another counter and through ball which veteran substitute Gareth Gallop received beyond the defenders and placed just wide of Sherring to make it 2-0.
The response from Minehead brought them a fine hard-earned goal when Vickers converted from the left of the penalty area to make it 2-1, but a deserved of a share of the spoils wasn’t to be. The Blues will be hoping for a return to winning ways and a finish in the top eight before the league is restructured.
Minehead: Darren Sherring, Callum Barnfield, Luke Bloys, Mike Mullen, Matt Cracknell, Chris Newbold, Harry Scatchard, Guy Burns, Rob Vickers, Mike Graddon, Branden Simsek, subs Matty Ronan, Tristan Hawkins (both used).
n Minehead have no match this weekend, but next Saturday (November 4) they face on paper their most daunting challenge of the season so far, away to Premier Division leaders Chilcompton Sports in the third round of the Somerset Senior Cup.
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