Willand Vs Ilfracombe Match Report
For those fans who support clubs whose corporate hospitality is several times larger than the
average Silver Street crowd, the magic of the FA Cup usually starts in the first week of January,
when cold winds and muddy pitches can conspire to create FA Giant Killing folklore.
Non league fans though know that the FA cup doesn’t start with the Third Round or even what is
confusingly called the ‘First Round Proper’.
For Willand, this seasons campaign started in the Extra Preliminary Round, on a balmy
Saturday in August, where they narrowly beat Western Leagues Wellington, our near
neighbours from across the border.
The prize, a place in the no longer Extra but still Preliminary round, a tie against not so near
neighbours from across the border, Ilfracombe Town, also of the Western League, who eased
past Sherborne Town in the previous round following a replay.
The Bluebirds have had an eventful start to the new season, both scoring and conceding 8
goals in their first five fixtures and both teams came into the game hoping to better their
previous bests by reaching the First Round Proper.
A still warm but overcast afternoon welcomed the teams, which saw a change to the Willand
starting eleven with Winsor replacing Stamp, who dropped to the bench and which saw Camilo
not in the matchday squad.
The Ilfracombe team meanwhile boasted a back four whose combined shirt number count
totalled 49, which included a conventional number 2 at right back.
It was the home team who made the more incisive start to the game and they took an early lead
in the 7th minute. A Willand attack was put out for a corner with the home team claiming a foul
on the defender in the preceding play, which the referee waved away. Of course, such is the
way of these things, Poole rose highest to meet the well hit corner and give Willand the perfect
The crowd, if not the players, were distracted minutes later as what appeared to be the world's
whiniest motorcycle made its way slowly past the gates of Silver Street, having been first heard
somewhere around Diggerland, presumably on its way to a local garage to fix its gears. The
momentary distraction momentarily gave Illfracombe some momentum, with Downing running
clear on the right before blasting his shot over the Willand bar.
The respite was short-lived however and Willand extended their lead in the 11th minute. There
was some neat football down the Willand right between Searle, Hill and Winsor and some quick
feet and smart passing in the box before Hill was tripped by a lunging boot, the referee not
hesitating to point to the spot. Richards stepped up and for consecutive games placed his
penalty into the bottom corner to give Willand a two goal lead.
Ilfracombe continued to struggle to get into the game, with nothing more to show for their effort
than a few shots from distance that didn’t trouble the Willand goal until a moment of magic in the
15th minute when Short picked the ball up on the right side of the Willand defence before curling
an imperial shot beyond Burton’s outstretched hand to bring Ilfracombe back into the tie, and
give an early contender for GOTS.
With a new found impetus the visiting team almost drew level minutes later when Paine drove a
shot just past the Willand upright from a full thirty yards. Game on.
Or maybe not.
With no drop in effort from both teams, the rest of the half could be defined by misplaced and
overhit passes and the Referee letting a lot more go than you might see on another Saturday,
the only highlight coming in the 32nd minute when a Willand corner was bundled off the line by
a combination of keeper and defender, without ever threatening to cross the threshold.
There was a Willand change to start the 2nd half, with Matthews replacing Hill, which also saw a
change in position with Kelly swapping from the right to the left wing.
It was a slow start to the period, both teams failing to move through the lower gears, much like
the aforementioned motorbike, with the highlight of this period of play coming in the 53rd minute
when Bailey became the first player to test the referee’s tolerance level, and the ball becoming
temporarily lost under the changing rooms.
The game sprung into life with 25 mins left to play when Richards played a delightful ball across
the face of the Ilfracombe goal, only to see an outstretched boot put out before it found a
Willand touch. This seemed to light a spark and both teams picked up the intensity and took
advantage of the officials continuing lenient attitude to discipline to put in some challenging
tackles but without creating any chances.
Illfracombe continued to push forward and were rewarded in the 69th minute when a break on
the left saw the winger cut inside and over the outstretched foot of a backtracking Searle, the
referee having no hesitation in awarding the second penalty of the day. The Willand number 3
breathed a sigh of relief however as he watched Burton dive to his right to save what in reality
was a poorly taken penalty.
The game continued with no side able to wrestle the advantage, although Willand did begin to
play some neat football without ever bothering the Twitter admin and Illfracombe began to take
advantage of Willand seemly playing with no right sided midfield, Searle increasingly finding
himself isolated as Winsor pushed infield.
With the clock, and the chance to advance in the competition both ticking away, Illfracombe
again increased the intensity as they sought the equalizer, with Willand showing some, if not
desperate, certainly concerned defending, doing well to hold on for periods. The best chance for
the visitors came late when Stevens found himself one on one with the Willand Number one,
only for Burton to block him twice, before Searle cleared a scrambled effort away from the line.
A bad tempered final few minutes culminated in a booking for Kelly following a cynical challenge
after Wiland took a short corner before Wright was given a straight red card after the whistle,
presumably for something the Ilfracombe defender said to the referee.
In a close game Willand probably did enough to earn the victory, if not the plaudits, and the
management team may have some concerns over injuries with two games coming over the
bank holiday weekend. In the meantime though all attention turns to Monday, where a card
adorned with the legend ‘Willand Rovers’ remains in the hat.
Today’s Match sponsor Clear Surface selected Jack Windsor as Man of the Match
“Match report was written by Dave Bayliss”
|Private: Will Richards||Goal|
|Kieran Bailey||Yellow Card|
|Private: Lewis Hill|
|Private: Adam Kelly||Yellow Card|
|Ashton Hewitt||Yellow Card|
|Private: Jack Winsor|
|Private: Callum Chivers||Sub|
|Private: Dean Stamp|
|Private: Jamie Hearsey||Yellow CardYellow CardRed CardSub|
|Private: Sully McKenna|
|Private: Ethan Matthews||Sub|