Willand Rovers FC vs Brixham

Devon FA. St Lukes Bowl
February 8, 2023
Score: 4 - 1

Match Report

Away from the upper echelons of the Premier league, where priorities always seem to favour Wednesday nights in Barcelona over Saturday afternoons in Brighton, a debate hardly ever rages over the importance of cup competitions.

In non-league these conversations generally manifest themselvesin August rather than in February, where the duality of choice still exists, and before cup exploits have generally been consigned to the hard drives of match reporters around the country.

In a time before promotion and relegation have taken over the collective psyche of fans and officials alike, a run in the FA Cup, or even the Trophy or Vase can not only lead to increased kudos but, more importantly, increased revenue.

The Devon FA St Lukes Bowl is a different beast altogether though. A county cup where first round games are still being contested in October, the competition offers little in the way of extended glory or monetary incentive and indeed some clubs play games at a financial deficit, gate and bar receipts not equalling wages and utility bills.

There is also an element of Shakespearean farce that exudes from the Bowl. Willand find themselves in the unusual positionof being Quarter Finalists without having played a game in the competition.

This anomaly has occurred through a combination of a first-round bye (thirty teams into a cup competition just don’t go!) and a walkover against scheduled opponents Dartmouth in the 2nd round.

There have in fact been 6 walkover wins over the first two rounds, 6 games that never actually took place of the 22 games scheduled, which on some level must bring into question the legitimacy of the competition.

This perception isn’t helped by the Devon FA themselves who also don’t seem to hold the competition in high regard.  Indeed, the results page on the Devon FA website is still emboldened by the placeholder ‘Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, the Latin bedfellow of web developers around the world used in lieu of any actual text.

Willand’s opponents for tonight’s clash, South West Peninsula side Brixham AFC have taken a more traditional route to the Quarter Finals, besting Okehampton and Ivybridge to secure their place, and come into the tie on an excellent run of form, having won 6 of their last 7 games, scoring 25 goals in the process (3.5 goals per game for those of a statistical mindset).

Both Willand and Brixham made changes to their match-day squad, with David Steele resting several first team regulars and welcoming back Gabby Rogers and Jamie Hearsay into the team.

Brixham, perhaps with an eye on their weekend Vase fixture, started without nine first-team regulars.

After a cautious start from both teams the first chance fell to the visitors in the 19th minute, a free kick swung into the box from the left touchline evading the Willand defence before the ball found itself at the feet of the Brixham forward, who could only watch as his shot was well saved by the feet of Burton.

The game continued in a scrappy fashion as both teamsstruggled to adapt to the new personnel, both teams losing the ball too easily in midfield and it wasn’t until the 23rd minute thatWilland forged their first chance of the game, Guppy leaping well to meet a Rogers free kick, his header easily gathered by Weeks in the Brixham goal.

The game plodded along in unspectacular fashion until the 38thminute when Camilo shone some light through the Silver Street gloom, picking the ball up on the Willand right before cutting inside and placing a curling, swirling shot past a rooted Weeks and into the top corner of the net.

It was a lead that was to last only 3 minutes though, the visitors pulling a goal back through a Mercieca penalty after the ball struck a Willand defenders unnaturally positioned hands giving the referee no choice but to point to the spot.

Giving the match reporter very little time to update his notes, the tied game was again soon a scribble of notes on a pad as Willand restored the lead immediately from the kick off.

Hearsay did well to get a toe to a pass that deflected it beyond the Brixham fullback who was then was adjudged to have fouled the Willand player inside the box as he cut in towards goal.

Camilo slow stepped and hesitated his way to the ball before placing his shot into to the corner to restore Willand’s lead.

In truth the last 10 minutes of the game were an oasis in a desert of dire, and neither manager would have revelled in their respective team’s performance, nor would any of the players entertained their half time oranges with much gusto.

Half time Willand 2 – Brixham 1

The 2nd half started in much the same vein as most of the 1st half had played out, both teams showing endeavour without ever really looking like they might add to the score line. As the half played out Willand stating get more of a footing in the gamethough, and the breakthrough came in the 63rd minute.

A superb ball from Lilley inside the Brixham fullback saw Kelly running from the left flank and steering the ball around a stranded Weeks with the outside of his boot from the angle of the penalty area.

David Steele introduced a number of substitutes early in the half and it was Bray, on to replace Hearsay, who came close to extending the lead in the 67th minute. The Willand midfielder picked the ball up following a passage of good play and saw hisscuffed shot loop high over the stranded Weeks beforeconnecting with the base of the upright and bouncing away to safety

A tiring Brixham were restricted to a number of long-range efforts that never troubled Burton and it was Willand who scored again in the 81st minute. More good work from Bray who took a long sweeping pass out of the air before pulling the back toRogers who placed his shot into the corner for Willand’s 4th.

There was still time for one more Willand chance after both Bray and Griffith had cut the ball back from the goal line, the ball eventually finding Rogers whose powerful shot was saved at point blank range by Weeks.

In the end David Steele will be happy to have got through to the semi-finals of the trophy, but I would imagine would simply be happy to have got a W on the results page, all without picking up any injuries.

As for the St Luke’s Bowl itself, the text Latin place holder used on the Devon FA website says it better than I could. The text translates as ‘Nor is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself

Utterly Meaningless.

Full Time Willand 4 – Brixham 1


*Any views or opinions in this report are the personal views of the match report writer and do not represent the views of the club.*


Ryan Guppy
Josh Searle
George Burton
Douglas CamiloGoalGoal
Kieran Bailey
Adam KellyGoal
Joshua Baker
Private: Jamie Hearsey
Private: Sully McKenna
Private: Michael Lilley
Private: Gabriel Roger’sGoal


Private: Bailey KempsterSub
Private: Ben GriffithSub
Private: Lewis Hill
Private: Ollie BraySub
Ashton Hewitt