Uhlsport Somerset County League
Premier Division
Westfield 5, Ilminster Town 5

ILMINSTER Town fought back from 4-2 down at half-time to draw an extraordinary game 5-5 away to Westfield on Saturday, writes Andy Fish.

The Blues were missing a couple of first team players in Will Spurway and Mike Whitefield, but Brad Pitman adapted well to his unfamiliar right-back role, combining well with Ben Evett and winning an early corner after a deft nutmeg.

Evett’s corner found Lee Sweet, whose header forced a save, and Louis Rutter - making his first start of the season at centre-back after a long lay-off, volleyed in from the rebound.

The combination of Karl Davis, Taylor Jefferson and Evett was causing the Westfield backline problems, and Evett had two clear chances to put the Blues further ahead.

Those misses were to prove costly, as the home side countered after the second miss and a cross-shot from Ryan Allen that Jack Rutter appeared to have covered inexplicably and seemingly against known physics found its way into the opposite corner to make it 1-1.

Westfield had momentum now, and a foul by Ben Pitman on a Westfield player who was running away from goal gave them a penalty opportunity, from which Allen scored his second.

Ilminster fought their way back into the game but were dealt another sucker punch when another counter-attack was expertly finished off by Oliver Jones from just outside the box to put Westfield 3-1 up.

Ilminster had barely kicked off when Westfield had a fourth, as a defensive challenge led to the ball hitting Jack Rutter and bouncing kindly for Jones to convert.

More drama was still to come before the break, though, as Sweet drove forward from centre-back and picked out Davis on the left wing, and he played a superb ball in for Jefferson to drive home from close range for 4-2.

It was a return to old pastures for Ilminster manager Chris Hill, who left Westfield around this time last season, and his passion and belief that Westfield wouldn’t hold on to this lead gave the Blues the drive to get themselves back into the game.

Hill replaced midfielder Sam Roberts with centre-back Doug Whitfield, pushing Lee Sweet into his more usual midfield role alongside Sam Sheldrake and Ben Pitman.

This move helped the Blues start on the front foot early in the second half and they won a free kick on the edge of the box.

Jefferson and Evett took control of the situation and a low strike from Evett around the wall found the bottom right-hand corner to make it 4-3.

Ilminster then won a corner, and Evett’s delivery found Louis Rutter, rising above everyone and beating the Westfield keeper to the ball, to head home his second of the match.

Pegged back to 4-4, Westfield attacked down their right before switching play, and their left-back - who had been run ragged by Evett all game - ran unchallenged to the edge of the box before unleashing a shot that could only be palmed into the far corner by Jack Rutter to restore the hosts’ lead.

As Ilminster fought for the equaliser, Evett seemed to lose sight of the ball and kicked out at a Westfield player who had gone to ground to clear it, resulting in a red card.

Undeterred by going down to 10 men, the Blues again raised their game and scored a fifth through an excellent finish by Jefferson.

Charlie Rutter and Chris Nezianya came on as the visitors pushed for a winner which would take them out of the bottom three.

The last kick of the game was a corner taken by Nezianya, but it was headed clear and both sides had to settle for a point.

Ilminster Town: Jack Rutter, Brad Pitman, Karl Davis, Sam Sheldrake, Sam Roberts, Louis Rutter, Lee Sweet, Rich Crabb, Ben Pitman, Ben Evett, Taylor Jefferson. Subs: Charlie Rutter, Doug Whitfield, Chris Nezianya.

This Saturday sees Ilminster go to fourth-placed Chilcompton (2pm).