Willand vs AFC Totton
The world is burning.
Global warming is one of those contentious issues that seem to have infiltrated the zeitgeist of the public since the advent of the internet. It’s a continuously contentious issue and those who argue against global warming will tell you that watching football in sub arctic conditions is proof positive of the myth, or that there’s a cyclical element to temperature change and soon we’ll all be talking about an impending ice age.
But these just suppositions and opinions, not facts, and as conservative darling Ben Shapiro once said, facts don’t care about your feelings.
And the facts are that there is more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere today than at any time in human history and we’re set to miss, by some distance, the 1.5c target as outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
And these aren’t issues that we can kick down the road and leave to future generations. There’s a climate clock in Times Square in New York that is counting down to the precise moment when we can no longer affect the inevitable. It currently sits at under 7 years.
This isn’t about climate change though, it’s about human nature. It’s about how large swathes of society can remain oblivious to the obvious, even when it’s about to strike them in their collective faces.
There’s a film that sums up this human quality beautifully. ‘Don’t look up’ explores how life goes on in a normal fashion as a meteor hurtles towards earth, ignorance remaining blissful until the inevitable happens and the whole thing, literally, comes crashing down.
And so I wonder if people are starting to look at the clock hanging on the dressing room wall at Silver Street. The time it’s showing isn’t in years though but rather weeks and the inevitable outcome isn’t oblivion but with Willand sitting in 16th place, it’s relegation.
It’s a false equivalency of course. For a start it’s not inevitable and there are no heads buried in the sand, and Willand are in the fortunate position that they are both masters of their own destinies and are still playing, on the whole, excellent football. At least for 89 minutes.
Remarkably Willand have conceded in the 89th minute or beyond in 3 of their last 4 league games, to the cost of 5 points, something that would have been at the forefront of the managers mind going into today’s game against AFC Totton.
Based on current form the Devon Whites are dead last in the form charts, while opponents Totton are pushing hard for an automatic promotion berth, and David Steele made a number of changes to his starting 11, with Poole, Wylie, Koita and Baker replacing Kelley, Lilley, Griffith and Camilo.
The game started as a cagey affair as you might expect where neither team could afford to drop points. The first chance of the game fell to Totton in the 8th minute, a corner swung in from the right was driven past the foot of the upright by Kennedy..
The game exploded in the 17th minute when, after a consultation with his linesman, the referee showed Jefford a straight red card. The card was brandished for serious foul play, the full backs tackle on Baker arriving after the ball had already departed.
The foul also marked the end of the game for an injured Baker, replaced by Griffith.
The lack of numbers didn’t affect Totton though who took the lead in the 25th minutes, confusion in the Willand defence left the Totton winger to break away from two white shirts, his pass finding Taylor who fired low and past Burton.
Things looked decidedly worse for Willand in the 27th minute when a defender was adjudged to have brought down Tomasso in the box.
Rendell stepped up and stuttered to the ball before placing it the wrong side of Burton’s post to a collective sigh of relief from three sides of the ground.
There was no respite though and the Willand goal was under threat again moments later, a free kick swung into the box that seemed to deflect off a shoulder before looping up and off the bar, eventually getting cleared by the Willand defence.
In truth, despite the numerical advantage, Willand were holding on for periods of the game but equalised with the last kick off the half with a move that was as beautiful as it was direct. A long clearance was headed into the path of Koita who took the ball in his stride before casually placing it past a despairing Noice.
It was a fractious and sometimes ill-tempered, ill-disciplined half from both teams that the referee did well to control, but Willand will have entered the dressing room on the high of scoring late in the half.
Half Time Willand 1 – AFC Totton 1
Totton nearly regained the lead early, a corner hit into the heart of the Willand goal mouth was met with a header that flashed over the bar, watched by a stationary Burton.
Willand took the next chance of the game, again from a corner, the ball dropping to Bray who side footed it inches wide from 6 yards.
There were chances for both teams as the half progressed, Camilo striking the ball over from a good position for Willand and a Burrows header ruled out by an offside flag, but it was with a sense of Déjà vu all over again when Totton scored the winner in the 96th minute.
The visitors were awarded their second penalty of the game following a frenetic period of play, when Taylor was brought down by Burton. The Totton number 10 stepped up to place his shot past the Whites keeper and condemn Willand to another late defeat.
When the final whistle blew heads dropped and fists were briefly raised before order was restored and it was a jubilant Totton who celebrated with their fans.
Today’s result will be a tough pill to swallow for David Steele and the players. There were times in the 2nd half when I had to remind myself which team had a numerical advantage, but WIlland again played well against a good side, only to snatch defeat from the jaws of what would have felt like a victory.
Next week’s game against local rivals Bideford may have become the biggest of the season so far, and hopefully the fans will turn up to support the team.
But until then, Don’t look down.
Full Time Willand 1 – AFC Totton 2
The above was supposed to be the end of the match report, but I’ve made a couple of amendments this morning that I felt needed to be said. This is my own opinion, based on what I saw at the game, but I thought that the referring team today did an excellent job in difficult circumstances. Do I think they got every decision correct? Not at all, and I doubt that they’d ever claim that. But I was disappointed this morning to read a tweet from the match referee that a linesman had been verbally abused by a club official.
I wasn’t standing on that side of the ground so can’t comment on what was said, but I can confirm that the official wasn’t reported as representing Willand.
Over the season we’ve had good referees at Willand and, to be honest, we’ve had bad referees. But we’ve always had referees, without whom we wouldn’t have games.
Football is an emotional game and sometimes things can be said in the heat of the moment but whatever your opinion, collectively or individually, officials should be able to partake in games without consistent and continuous abuse from players, officials or fans.
For balance I’d like to reiterate that this is my personal opinion and an overall view and I am in no way implying that Totton are better or worse than any other club, including Willand.
Man of the match was Ashton Hewitt
Match sponsors today were Rob Norrish Flooring & Match ball sponsors were RJC Electrical thank you both for you support
|Adam Poole||Yellow Card|
|Private: Bailey Kempster|
|Private: Joe Wylie|
|Private: Dan Koita||Goal|
|Private: Ben Griffith||Sub|
|Private: Lewis Hill||Sub|
|Private: Adam Kelly|
|Private: Michael Lilley|