Millbrook 1-0 Ilfracombe

Oct 30, 2021

RIKKI Shepherd’s 16th goal of the season secured three valuable Western Premier points for Millbrook against Clem Bennelick’s well-organised Ilfracombe side.

Shepherd struck in the 72nd minute and for the remainder of the game the Brook gave it their all to protect their first clean sheet in 15 games and their first win in seven.

The final whistle was celebrated with gusto by the Millbrook players and coaching team, underlining the importance of the result over the performance.

“Welcome to winter football,” manager Mackenzie Brown shouted. “You’re not going to see too many classics from now on but the result was what mattered today.”

It was Millbrook’s first Western League win since September 11 when they beat Clevedon Town 5-2 and later Brown said: “It’s been a long time coming!

“At times our performances may have deserved better in the last month or so, but the lads never started feeling sorry for themselves and have really focussed on the areas that we need to improve on and they were rewarded with three points.”

Of the game, Brown said: “In typical Millbrook fashion we wasted some great chances in the early stages, and those chances have to turn into goals.

“But thankfully we weren’t punished for not taking them in the end and full credit to the strikers because they keep putting themselves in those positions.

“Rikki in particular had three chances or so within the six yard box, so he’s going to get a goal in the end, which he did.

“But it was a good team performance, we defended well, did the basics better and that helped.

“I thought their main threat was their left winger, which we expected from our previous game, but Dan Chapman dealt with him brilliantly.

“Their sin bin at half-time flummoxed both teams really as it was an open first half, and it led to a messy second half but you take that if it ends in three points and hopefully it can kickstart a little run of points.”

Millbrook started the game positively and created three chances in the opening 15 minutes which should have brought at least one goal. But Shepherd and Jake Foster found Ilfracombe keeper Steve Oliver in their way.

Harry Stevens volleyed over a chance for Ilfracombe in the 19th minute and two minutes later Charlie Prentice shot inches wide after a marauding run from the centre circle.

Shepherd was Millbrook’s main threat and only an excellent last-ditch challenge prevented him from scoring in the 38th minute. A minute later the striker went down in the penalty area but the referee waved away Millbrook appeals.

A good-tempered first half unfortunately ended with a melee after Ollie Stevens’ late lunge on Shepherd near the halfway line.

Stevens was booked and things spilled over at the half-time whistle which led to Ilfracombe central defender Brodie Montague being sin-binned for the opening 10 minutes of the second half.

Millbrook were unable to take advantage of the situation and the game was becoming more scrappy on a heavy pitch.

The home side did carve out a chance in the 67th minute with Foster outpacing his full back along the right and crossing for Shepherd to head just wide.

It turned out to be the rehearsal for Millbrook’s winner five minutes later with Foster again using his pace on the right. This time his cross saw Shepherd rise to glance a header into the far corner.

Fifth placed Ilfracombe stepped up the pressure in the last 20 minutes but the Millbrook back line, well marshalled by keeper Chris Wearing and with old school centre half John Styring again outstanding, held firm.