At Hengrove on a glorious late summer afternoon on a bumpy pitch for 45 minutes Willand played with passion, pride, pace, possession, precision and power. Dean Stamp was a revelation up front with a performance of strength, skill and superb finishing which rightly gave him the man of the match accolade.
Willand made four changes from the team last time out. Stamp, Dave Hambly and Jake Wannell returning. David Steele making his first appearance of the season after injury. For the first time this season Willand started in a 4-4-1-1 formation. Dan Western played in the hole behind Dean, Scott and Bobby Hopkinson anchored the midfield, with Steele and James Ansell on the flanks. Hambly and Wannell held the full back slots with James Clampin and Simon Hill in the middle with keeper Matt Cafer in between the posts.
Willand started well and the first minute Stamp had a low dipping shot well saved by the Grove keeper as he pushed the ball round the post. Similarly 6 minutes later young Cafer had to replicate the save to keep the scores level.
Willand took the lead with a well-crafted move involving four players. Hambly played a neat one-two with Ansell and then tucked the ball inside to Western who turned his man and slipped a lovely little ball to Stamp who from the penalty spot slipped the ball right footed past the advancing keeper. Now Willand had their tails up and were flying, sumptuous passes sprayed from the midfield found willing runners or if the ball was passed up front Stamp held on to the ball or battled and harried the Grove back line. A foul on Stamp lead to a free kick which Hopkinson took but aided by a partial block enabled the home keeper to gather. On the 22 minute from a corner Clampin knocked the ball down for Stamp to volley slightly over. But Willand were not to be thwarted Hopkinson made a strong run down the right, beating three players from the by line, knocked the ball back to Western who floated a dinked ball to the far post for Stamp to rise above the defender and head home 2 nil Willand.
Now the confidence was flowing, a minute later Western released Stamp who let fly with a low left footer from outside the area, the ball sped past the keeper and hit the net much to the glee of the travelling band of supporters. Willand kept going it was Western’s turn to test the keeper with a fierce shot which was only parried, Clampin’s follow up header fell invitingly into the keepers arms. As time ran out of the half Stamp tried his luck from 30 yards but his volley flew wide.
What a half, the perfect hat trick and Willand on their way to three valuable points. Could the second half live up to that?.
The same 11 started the second half and again Willand were immediately on top. Hopkinson’s free kick flew narrowly wide with keeper well beaten. Willand kept the ball but could not match the first half tempo. That said with players playing just back from serious injury, it was a great work out for sterner tests to come. In the 55th minute Rogers was replaced by Alex Gray. Three minutes later Clampin headed over from a Hopkinson corner. In the 65th minute Ian Patchett and Lloyd Beech came on for goal hero Stamp and Simon Hill. Willand played out the last 25 minutes of the game with few scares Grove trying their luck from distance but none troubled Cafer in goal.
Willand Rovers: Cafer: Wannell© Hill Clampin Hambly: Steele Hopkinson Rogers Ansell: Western Stamp: Subs Gray for Rogers (55), Patchett for Stamp (65), Beech for Hill (65).
Game won, 3 points on the board for our first win of the season. Scott Rogers was a very satisfied and relieved manager he was just happy to bank a win and the way the team played in that first half was a pleasure to watch. Western, Steele and Hopkinson will have all benefitted from a 90 minute workout. Although Dean took the plaudits Western had a part to play in all three goals with three assists. James Clampin ran Dean close for man of the match award he and Hilly looked like they have played together for years both are winners in the heart of defence and will be tested in the months to come. If the team sticks together over the next two to three months the results and performance will come.
Now for tougher opposition on Wednesday night Bridport home 7.45ko.