Clyst Valley 1 Willand Rovers 3 (HT 1-2) (Hayfield, Vittles, Kingdom)

Two weeks had passed without a game but the White Eagles slipped onto top gear again with a very good display against strong opponents and returned to Silver Street with all 3 points.

Attacking the Exmouth End, Willand’s wide players found lots of opportunities and after 6′, the visitors took the lead. Macca Broom received the ball from Tim Miles and when he tricked his way to the goal-line, his cross was met by JJ Vittles in the 6 yard area his first shot came back off the ‘keeper as did his second but this time, Dan Hayfield laced the ball home from 15 yards.

For the next 10’, chances came and went – no-one would have argued if Willand had more than doubled their advantage as JJ twice, Jordan Armstrong and Broom went close. It has to be said that the home ‘keeper was in fine form as he showed from three 1v1s.

At the other end, most of the hosts attacks floundered on the rocks of Anthony Ansell and the excellent Alex Wright and the supporting roles played by Tim Miles and Tom Roberts. However, as their early energies began to wane (and the excesses of the previous night’s party at Project AJ began to show!!), so Clyst got more possession and the chance to involve their most consistent threat – Chim. This boy has exceptional ball control qualities and an eye for goal.

On 37′, he received the ball 25 yards out, played a give-and-go and from the edge of the area fired an excellent low shot that evaded the dive of Jez Cross. For all the chances and good possession Willand had had, this was a wake up call.

And they responded emphatically. Another good piece of build-up play released Macca down the right and his low cross was first met by Jordan Armstrong and then JJ who fired low for 2-1.

After the break, Clyst pressed Willand higher up the pitch but once again it was the visitors who came closest and perhaps should have taken the lead when both JJ and then Armstrong fired wide when well-placed.

Then the rain started to fall and suddenly, possession was getting harder to retain and passes were going astray. Both sides kept up a good tempo but the changing conditions and gradual fatigue demanded composure on the ball and good shape. Ashley Matthews now came into his own and showed how effective he is in winning midfield battles and distributing simply. I don’t think he lost an aerial duel all afternoon and even when he had to receive treatment for splitting his tongue open after 56′, he refused to consider coming off.

On 67′, Nick Merriam replaced JJ and suddenly thee was a shape to the Willand strike-force again. He wriggled free twice and combined with Armstrong but Clyst closed down well. After 84′, and some sustained Eagles’ possession outside the home penalty area, Merriam’s run to take away a defender gave Hayfield the perfect through pass to Reece Kingdom who made it a goal a game with a clean low strike for 3-1.

The rain had gotten heavier and maybe the last 1/4 of the game was not that memorable but otherwise it had been a very open contest between 2 sides that like to get the ball down and play. Well done to the referee too. Players who affected the play for Willand today – Ansell, Wright, Broom and Matthews shone.