Cinderford Vs Willand
If you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
Would you capture it or just let it slip?
His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti’
Lose Yourself – Eminem.
Okay maybe not the spaghetti part, but you get the idea. I have no idea what music the team plays in the dressing room before the game (indeed I’ve turned into my father and it seems barely recognisable as music on occasion) but the above lyrics summed up the mood in the spacious but somewhat vacant Cinderford social lounge before the game.
Put into British parlance, we were all a bit nervous.
The permutations were simple. Win and we maintain our league position.
Draw, and so long as Lymington and Bideford don’t win, we still maintain our League position but our fingers nails are slightly shorter.
Lose and it becomes apparent that the permutations aren’t actually as simple as I thought, and besides, no-one was talking about losing or even drawing as pints were drained, crisps crunched and positive thinking was embraced.
Win and we maintain our league position was today’s mantra.
The opponents for the final game of the season, Cindeford, had already been relegated in the previous weeks, allowing them to play their last home game in this league (at least for another season) with a freedom that they may not have been afforded in previous weeks.
The Willand starting eleven saw two changes to the team that was narrowly beaten by Evesham midweek, with Camilo replacing Bray, and Kelly coming into midfield, the versatile Guppy filling in for the absence Milton in the centre of defence.
There were few nerves on show from the team in fluorescent green in the opening gambits, with Rice showing his quality on the left during several forays into the Cinderford half and any nervous energy was confined to a crowd which seemed interspersed with as many familiar faces as strangers.
Hearts and minds of the traveling contingent were calmed in the 15th minute when Willand took the lead. Moulden found himself in the right place to slot the ball beyond Parker after a game of pinball ensued in the Cinderford penalty area following a quick Willand throw in.
There was a frightening moment in the 20th minute when a robust challenge from the Cinderford full back saw Rice collide heavily with the advertising board that surrounded the pitch. In the same week that Alex Fletcher’s injury and recovery have been in the news it was a relief to all concerned when the Willand number 10 sat up, apparently only winded by the impact, and he was soon able to return to the game.
Although playing on the backfoot for long periods, Cindeford nearly found an equaliser in the 29th minute when a corner evaded both the Willand defense and the Cinderford forward as it swept its way across the face of the goal and past the far post.
The chance seemed to light a spark in the home team who continued to press as the half trundled on towards the inevitable whistle, however neither team were able to conjure up anything that resembled a chance.
As the half time came to a close, collective phones were engaged to assess the current situation; There was parity around the grounds after 45 minutes with each of the relegation protagonists leading one goal to nil.
HT Cinderford 0 – Willand 1
Willand took only a few minutes to extend the lead in the second half, a series of Camilo corners were fired in, the last one eventually finding the head of Rice who made no mistake from 3 yards.
The lead was almost extended soon after when the keeper pulled off an excellent save from a powerful Hewett drive after some good Willand play and there was a further chance minutes later when Moulden broke free down the left (or possibly the right Dan!), his pass falling into the path of Griffith, who was only able to find the boots of a sprawling Parker who made the save.
Willand came close again in the 66th minute, Josh Searle cutting in from the right before his thunderous shot was tipped onto the bar by Parker, Camilo unable to keep his follow up shot within the boundaries of the town.
Cindeford nearly made it an anxious closing period for Willand as Miles fired in an excellent free kick in the 84th minute that Burton could only parry, the rebound falling to Barnard whose shot was fired the wrong side of the post.
Willand ended the game playing keep ball but there was still time for one more chance to extend the lead. Camilo picked the ball up inside the area and, rounding the keeper, could only watch as his deflected shot was cleared off the line by Barnard.
As the game flowed into an undefined period of injury time tensions seemed to rise amongst the Willand crowd, thoughts of the thing of which we don’t speak festering into consciousness.
But it was not to show itself and as the final whistle blew there was a strange emotion that seemed to engulf the Willand players and supporters alike. A brief celebration tempered with a palatable relief which was soon soon extinguished by the a sense that a great weight had been lifted from the shoulders.
The Willand players were seated by David Steele for one last time this league campaign as the fans wandered towards the bar and the exits with a light spring in their steps.
We won and we maintained our league place.
Full Time Cinderford 0 – Willand 2
Six weeks ago Willand had been all but relegated; Not my words, I’m paraphrasing someone much closer to the club than me. But I’m inclined to agree.
Not literally of course, and that’s not to imply that I think anyone had given up hope, or had stopped giving 100%. But under the surface and possibly subconsciously mental preparations had begun on how relegation should be dealt with.
Thankfully David, Liam, the players and everyone associated with the club ignored the obvious and simply carried on what they were doing. They knew that we had a great team of players that, given the right rub of the green, could play their way out of trouble. And so it proved.
And because of their efforts, tonight I have a very odd feeling; I’m immensely proud of something I had nothing to do with.
I’d usually wrap this report up with another Eminem quote, bringing the whole report to some illogical full circle.
Today though I’ll leave the last words to Jack Rice; ‘What a result. (this is) some team and club’
|Douglas Camilo||Yellow Card|
|Private: Bailey Kempster|
|Private: Jack Rice||Goal|
|Private: Ben Griffith|
|Private: Adam Kelly|
|Ashton Hewitt||Yellow Card|
|Private: Lewis Hill|