Willand Rovers vs Bristol Manor Farm
Today marks the last round of games for England’s football teams before the entire nation shuts down and packs away its interest in the beautiful game for a month, transferring everything, lock stock and dubious smoking barrel, to Qatar, to enjoy some nationalism under the glow of a winter sun.
At least that’s what you might think were to engage with an increasingly frenzied media or football’s de facto governing body right now, Twitter.
The truth of course is that football won’t be coming home in December because it’s not really going anywhere. Games will continue to be played up and down the country on boggy fields and cut up pitches, and won’t just reappear in some Christmas miracle on Boxing Day.
What the impending World Cup does mean though is that there will be a respite in weekend long television coverage of the Premiership, leaving armchair supporters around the county with nothing other than obscure national team fixtures to fulfil their footballing fix. The added insult of this particular World cup is the controversy surrounding non-footballing matters in Qatar that will no doubt sour the taste of many casual domestic fans.
And controversy there is. Even before Qatar was awarded the prestigious event there has
been a forbearance of convention; stories of bribery to FIFA, allegations of slavery amongst migrant workers and attitudes towards LGBT fans have all combined to create a storm that has threatened to permanently take the sheen off the Jules Rimet trophy.
It would be fair to say the opening game between the hosts and perennial no-hopers
Ecuador may be played under a darker cloud than a Morrissey concert in Manchester.
But with an audience that will either be enthused by events in the Middle East and be looking for a more local fix, or those apathetic to on pitch activities as Cameroon battle Serbia during their morning coffee break, comes an opportunity for teams that are still participating in the beautiful (and morally incorruptible) game to increase and enhance their fan base, taking advantage of a once every four years opportunity.
Of course the best way to retain and expand a fan base is to win matches, and to do it in style, and today's opponents, Bristol Manor Farm came into the game looking for their 4th win on the bounce, a run that has seen the Farmy Army amass 8 goals, scored by 6 different players. As with most statistics though these numbers fail to tell the whole story and the
current 3 run winning streak includes the only victories that the Bristol club have achieved this season, leaving them sat six places below Willand in the league.
As the quote says though (amusingly attributed to Watford full back Danny Rose on one prominent website) winning is contagious and David Steele would have been fully aware that Manor Farm had the potential to cause Rovers problems all over the pitch, and he picked a strong side with Koita replacing Stamp and Hewitt replacing Camilo who dropped to the bench.
Willand started the game with some impetus and took the lead in the 5th minute when a free kick from the middle of the pitch was launched into the crowded penalty box, the defensive header under pressure falling at the feet of Bray who hit a sweet strike beyond the outstretched hand of John and into the corner of the net.
Manor Farm came close to an equaliser minutes later when Howe flashed a header past Burtons upright but it was Willand who continued on the front foot, and they came close again in the 9th minute when another long free kick evaded the Manor Farm defence but Hill couldn’t connect with the cross following good work from Kelly and minutes later Richards saw his 25 yard shot travel wide of the upright.
Willand continued to push with the pace and press of Bray and Koita causing issues across the Manor Farm defence, aided and abetted by a midfield that worked hard to cut out attacks before they had chance to start and a defence that was dealing handsomely with anything that fought through or sailed over the midfield.
With Willand knocking hard on the Manor Farm door, the breakthrough came in the 26th
minute when a superb passing movement between Richards, Hill and Bray gave the Willand no 7 his second goal of the day in a move that I’m not sure my words could do justice.
Manor Farm did come back into the game as the clock ticked towards half time and their
best chances of the half were thwarted by an excellent double save from Burton, ensuring
that Willand went in at half time with their 2 goal lead intact.
HT Willand 2 Bristol Manor Farm 0
Manor Farm came out for the 2nd half with changes to both personnel as well as attitude, and nearly forced themselves back into the game in the 48th minute when a blocked Howe free kick rebounded to Llewellyn whose fierce snapshot was tipped superbly onto the bar and out for a corner by Burton.
Manor Farm continued to push and only a last ditch tackle from Kemper in the 58th minute
prevented a one on one opportunity for Gosling, and in the 66th minute Robins conspired to lift the ball over the Willand bar from close range after a melee in the penalty area.
Their effort was all for naught though when, against the run of play, following another flowing move involving Baker, Hill and Richards, the ball arrived at the feet of Bray who slid the ball past the charging John to complete his hat trick and extinguish and remnants of fire that has been building in Manor Farm.
The afternoon still has time to get worse for the opponents though in the 80th minute when more good work down the Willand left saw some intricate play between Camilo and Guppy before the ball found its way into the Manor Farm area, where a clearance only found Richards loitering and lonely around the penalty spot, the ball rebounding off the Willand fullback into the back of the net for Willands 4th of the day.
The result could, and possibly should have been increased further in the 88th minute when Camilo played Searle in one on one with John but the Manor Farm keeper blocked the shot.
While David Steele and Liam Raybould will be pleased with the three points I might suggest that they would be even more delighted with the display. From Burton’s heroics at the back to Bray’s hat trick this was the most complete team performance (at least that this reporter has seen) of the season.
Hopefully those who were in attendance also enjoyed the match and will tell their friends that they don’t need to be sad that Manchester and Liverpool aren’t on their TV’s for the next month.
Willand Rovers are playing and you can guarantee a friendly welcome and a fantastic performance. Well, you can definitely guarantee the first of those
FT Willand Rovers 4 Bristol Manor Farm 0
Player of the match was Ollie Bray selected by match sponsors WB employment Ltd. Thank you for your support
|Private: Will Richards||Goal|
|Private: Bailey Kempster|
|Private: Lewis Hill|
|Private: Adam Kelly|
|Private: Dan Koita|
|David Steele (Manager)|
|Private: Sully McKenna|