Toolstation League premier division: Barnstaple Town 6, Wellington 0

Wellington’s winning bubble was well and truly burst by undefeated Barnstaple Town in sunny North Devon yesterday (Saturday, October 7th).

After successive victories for his side, manager Richard Cherry was without a number of key players for what was always going to be a tough game.

The absentees included loanees Josh Baker – their hat-trick hero in midweek – and Nathan Byrne who were both recalled by Willand Rovers.

Cherry opted to start with a 5-3-2 formation with defender Mark Cornish pushed up front and, although this soon switched to a more conventional 4-4-2, there was no stopping Barnstaple and in particular striker Oscar Massey, who bagged four goals on his home debut.

The Tangerines got off to the worst possible start, falling behind as the game entered only its second minute. A high ball into the box was knocked down and experienced striker Stuart Bowker drove low and powerfully into the net.

The hosts doubled their lead just before the half-hour as Massey – recently on the books of Swindon Town – got in behind to round keeper Rhys Williams before finishing coolly.

Wellington suffered another blow shortly afterwards as assistant player-manager Jack Bown-Porter limped off with a recurrence of a calf injury, and they went further behind before the break with Massey producing a stunning volley off the outside of his foot to give Williams to chance.

That left Wellington with a mountain to climb in the second half and – with diminutive home skipper Billy Tucker orchestrating most of the play – there was no way back.

Cherry, who had brought on his son Alex to replace Bown-Porter, also introduced Flynn Smith and Sol Barclay.

However, Barnstaple were equally as clinical in the second half, making it 4-0 on 68 minutes as sub Blake Shapland turned in a low cross.

But the star of the show was Massey, who swivelled to complete his hat-trick on 73 minutes, drove home his fourth with eight minutes remaining and chipped against the bar, after a brave save by Williams, in stoppage time.

The Tangerines will look to put their bad day at the office behind them as they host Ilfracombe Town in the league next Saturday.

Wellington: Rhys Williams, Lewis Jennings, Tom Stone, Jordan Hayman, Ryan Hibbert, Jack Bown-Porter, James Cottrill, Josh Lukins, Glen Wright, Mark Cornish, Tom Burt. Substitutes: Alex Cherry, Sol Barclay and Flynn Smith (used); Shay Allen (not used).

Photos courtesy of the Around Wellington news and sport website.