Bideford vs Willand
There’s an old adage in football, usually reserved for the opposition’s skillful or overseas
signing who has something of the exotic about him, and is generally heard after he’s rinsed
the full back for the sixth time in the game.
‘But can he do it on a cold Tuesday night in Stoke?’
It’s an old cliché, usually uttered through the gritted teeth of envy and admiration, a token
of begrudging respect aimed at someone who you would no doubt adore should they have
worn the colours of your own club.
As clichés go though it’s not one I subscribe to. On a personal level I think it fails on every
front. For starters I don’t think you can beat football on a cold Tuesday night, Stoke or
otherwise. There’s something ethereal about watching a game under the hue of
under powered floodlights that you can never replicate on a Saturday afternoon.
The other element that I can never get behind is the use of Stoke as the location of this
parable. Not because I have any affinity with the city, in fact the exact contrary would be
true. If I ever had reason to find myself at the atrociously named Bet 365 stadium on a cold
Tuesday night, it wouldn’t to be to watch the Potters, rather than because my other team
were in town for a local derby. And derby games are always special.
Tonight’s game falls conveniently into both categories, a midweek game under the lights,
and a Devon derby.
This of course won’t be the first time that the teams have met this season, with Bideford
picking up a 3-0 win at Silver Street and there can be no doubt that Willand traveled up the
A361 with that at the forefront of their minds.
David Steele made two changes to the starting eleven, Hearsey and Baker replacing Camilo
and Stamp, and again there was a familiarity about the Bideford team that added an extra
incentive to the match.
The game was Bideford’s first home fixture at the Sports Ground since August and for long
periods of the first half it was the Robins who were looking lost, the game quickly turning
into one of ascendancy for the away team, settling into a rhythm that seemed to exclude
the Willand defense for long periods.
Willand almost opened the scoring in the 27th minute when Kelly drove purposefully from
his right back berth, the ball rebounding to Baker whose stinging shot was well saved by
Seedhouse Evans. The Bideford number one then sprung quickly back to his feet to make
and even more impressive save from a Hill follow up.
Despite the constant pressure the Bideford defense held firm until the 28th minute when
Fisher was adjudged to have pushed Hill in the area, a soft penalty that would no doubt
aggrieve if it was given against your own team. In the aftermath of Richards slotting the ball
away from the spot both Fisher and his manager found their names in the referee’s book,
one for dissent, the other for apparent sarcasm.
The goal did nothing to enthuse the home team though and Rovers continued to push for a
second, the inevitable coming in the 40 th minute, Hill winning the ball well before it broke to
Hewitt who drove his shot home from just inside the area, giving Seedhouse Evans no
Bideford 0 – Willand 2
Something was clearly said in the Bideford dressing room during the break and the home
team started with a purpose and desire that wasn’t on view before the break, and from
being second best all over the pitch they were suddenly first to the ball, first in the tackle
and on the front foot.
It was Willand though, now playing counterattack football, who produced the first chance of
the half when Hill beat the offside trap from the halfway line running onto a Guppy pass,
but the Willand striker couldn’t turn in his shot in from a tight angle.
Bideford continued to grow into the game but in truth they never looked like scoring, the
Willand defense, redundant in the first half, matching the hosts kick for kick, until the 57th
minute when Wright hit a superb drive into the top corner of the Willand goal that may well
still be traveling now had the net not done its job.
The game came alive after the goal, with both teams pushing to extend the lead or reduce
the deficit, depending on whose colours you had nailed to the mast, and Bideford thought
they had equalized in the 65th minute only to be denied by the linesman’s flag.
It was the men in the indescribable shade of green that endured in the 68th minute however
when Hill, having picked the ball up on the dead ball line, created an angle for himself from
the edge of the penalty area before scoop lobbing (I have no better description) over the
despairing Seedhouse Evans and into the top corner.
Hill had the chance to put the game to bed moments later when he found himself one on
one with the keeper but pulled his shot past both the custodian and the upright.
The game carried on in a frenetic pace until the final whistle, but in the end it was Rovers
who came out deserved winners, and can hold derby bragging rights until the return fixture
The only bright spot for Bideford was the strike from Wright, which may well have been one
of the best goals seen at the Sports Ground in a long time.
Not sure he could do it on a sunny Saturday at Anfield though.
Bideford 1 – Willand 3
Match report by Dave Baylis
|Private: Will Richards||Goal|
|Private: Bailey Kempster|
|Private: Lewis Hill||Goal|
|Private: Adam Kelly|
|Private: Jamie Hearsey|
|Private: Callum Chivers|
|Private: Dean Stamp|
|Private: Sully McKenna|