Cam Newton, quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, once noted that winning is contagious. The actual quote he made rambles on a bit and if truth be told he definitely stole the essence of it from Vince Lombardi’s ‘Winning is a habit’ but whichever version you prefer, the point remains salient.
People get used to winning, and the more used to winning that you get, the less likely you are to accept loss when you eventually, and inevitably, encounter it. By way of example, Manchester City didn’t lose consecutive games on their way to last year’s Premier League title. The same statistic applies to Leicester City during their winning campaign in 2015/16.
Of course Newton (Isaac rather than Cam) would have us believe that the opposite must also be true, but we tend to get less quotes about the habit of losing. This doesn’t mean it’s not true though. During their season-long relegation parade last year, Crewe Alexandra didn’t manage to win consecutive league games, albeit in a season when they only managed to win 7 games at all.
To the point, the importance of forming a winning habit in football can not be overstated, and the danger of falling into the mentality of losing games should be ignored at your peril. Just ask Liverpool.
This is perhaps a timely reminder that as we quickly approach February, neither Willand, nor today’s opponents Bristol Manor Farm, had managed a win in this calendar year. Indeed the Farmy Army’s last taste of victory came as far back as early December, although this doesn’t tell the entire story, with both teams only managing to complete three fixtures apiece during this winless spell due to the folly of the English weather.
It also doesn’t take into account Willands last outing at Bishop’s Cleeve, where for the first 45 minutes Willand put on a sublime display of attacking football that but for the heroics of the home custodian and a deflected cross that swept past Burton, would have resulted in a half time lead at the very least.
With both teams looking for a win to break the losing habit, David Steele was forced into a number of changes in his starting eleven, with Kelly injured, the impressive Rodgers on duty for Bude and Lilley missing from the squad, replaced by Searle, Poole and Koita.
Willand started the game kicking both uphill and downhill on the unusually undulating Manor Farm pitch but it was the home side that started with more purpose and endeavor with the first chance coming in the 5th minute, the ball falling to Willand alumni Owen Howe, given an opportunity by some lapse defending in the Rovers defence, only to see his shot slice high and wide.
The one way traffic continued unabated from Manor Farm with a claim for a penalty waved away in the 9th minute and a free kick minutes later following a wild kick from Guppy only managing to evade the attacking line.
The pressure finally paid off in the 13th minute when a cleared corner landed at the feet of the impressive Day, who seemed to both curl and chip the ball beyond Burton and into the top corner of the Willand goal for the lead.
The goal finally reminded Rovers why they had made the journey up the M5 and they were quickly back in the game in the 17th minute following some good play down the Willand right which saw Hewett break into the box, only to be felled by a clumsy challenge by the Manor Farm centre half before he could pull off a shot.
Camillo slow-stepped up before placing the resulting penalty firmly past John in the Manor Farm goal for the equaliser.
The goal switched the impetus to Willand who began to dominate in the closing stages of the half without troubling the scorer, the best of a number of chances falling to Poole in the 34th minute who could only watch as his free header looped into the hands of John.
Half Time – Bristol Manor Farm 1 – Willand 1
The 2nd half started as the 1st finished with Willand in the ascendency, and they were unlucky not to take the lead early in the half when the ball first contrived to smash into the Stanton instead of the back of the net following some intricate passing on the Willand left, and again following great work from Bray who chased the ball the width of the pitch before finding Camilo who could only watch as his shot flashed across the face of the goal.
It was Manor Farm who took the lead in the 56th minute though, the ball finding Howe in space on the Willand left before he placed his shot beautifully into the top corner from distance.
Howe nearly extended the lead in the 60th minute when he did well to hold off two Willand defenders before lashing a half-volley past Burton only to see it crash against the top of the bar.
The final 30 minutes of a combative game became a fraught and tense affair with the referee being required to step in on several occasions as passions spilled over from both sides. Willand did create some pressure as the clock ticked towards the ninety minutes but without troubling John and in the end Willand were beaten by a well drilled Manor Farm team who battled hard all afternoon, and were aided and abetted by two excellent strikes.
For the second game in succession David Steele must be wondering how his team haven’t come in at half time with a comfortable lead, and despite playing some good football, how they have not managed to convert this good play into points.
As Rovers continue their streak of not winning games I might again dip into my bag of Vince Lombardi quotes for something pertinent as the season continues to its conclusion;
“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”
Full Time – Bristol Manor Farm 2 – Willand 1
|Ryan Guppy||Yellow Card|
|Douglas Camilo||GoalYellow Card|
|Private: Bailey Kempster|
|Private: Ben Griffith|
|Ashton Hewitt||Yellow Card|
|Private: Dan Koita|
|Private: Lewis Hill||Sub|
|Private: Sully McKenna||Sub|