Willand Rovers FC vs Plymouth Parkway

Devon FA. St Lukes Bowl
January 17, 2024
Score: 3 - 1

Match Report

Willand vs Plymouth Parkway

If there’s one thing we like to do in this country, it’s complain. Whether it’s weather, potholes, or the fact that you have 300 channels and nothing to watch, an Englishman is never happier than when he’s complaining. Or at least that used to be true.

It seems like the advent of the internet, and Twitter specifically, has made complaining an altogether more visceral pastime. Whereas there used to be a camaraderie attached to a collective moan, the new vogue appears to be people hiding behind the anonymity of the internet to express diatribes that appear to be beyond their intellectual capabilities.

Instead of complaining about the things that affect their lives—noisy neighbours or roads being used as race tracks—there is an increasing element that they instead choose to parrot views they have engorged themselves on from the ‘personalities’ that have somehow floated to the top of their particular echo chambers.

The tribal nature of populism, of course, makes the whole thing even more unpalatable; critical thinking and the ability to see both sides of an argument seem to have been lost in one of Elon Musk’s tweets, and, if you were to believe the mainstream media, the only two political positions that are practised in this country today are tofu-eating liberals or right-wing gammon. The truth, of course, is that the nation operates across the full spectrum of ideas and ideologies, but that would never sell the newspapers that seem to run the country or pay back the billions that the website literally no one calls X owes back to its purchaser.

Football is the grass roots of English complaining. The referee inevitably favours one team, although no one can ever quite agree on which team that is. Pitches are too muddy, or the grass is too long in the corners; coffee is too hot; beer is too expensive; and there’s never a proper vegan option at the canteen.

Without complaining and moaning, football wouldn’t be the spectacle that it is today, but even the beautiful game is being taken down by the evils of social media. There was a time earlier this week when Taunton were being abused for postponing a game too soon (when the opposition had to drive halfway across the country) and Truro for postponing too late (when, in fairness, a team had travelled halfway across the country). A referee, who was acting in the players’ best interests, put one side in a difficult situation while the other was simply trying to do the right thing.

And both teams found themselves lambasted by the twitterati.

Despite the baltic weather, the Devon St Lukes Challenge Cup tie between Willand and Plymouth Parkway was declared a runner in the early afternoon, and despite a last-hour panic when power was lost, the game kicked off in front of an enthusiastic and well-insulated crowd, the only casualties being the hardworking and underappreciated staff in the aforementioned canteen, who now had a complaining crowd to deal with as they caught up.

Due to the nature of the game, it was no surprise that both made some personnel changes, with Willand resting Howe, Moulden, and Searle with Wright, Byrne, and Kelly filling in.

It was Willand who warmed up the quicker of the two teams, with Baker taking advantage of a goalkeeping faux pas in the 4th minute, beating an out-rushing Parkes to the ball before running it to the byline and slotting in from the angle.

The Whites were forced into an early change, with Hewett replaced by Searle, who slotted into his native position with Kelly pushing into midfield.

Willand nearly increased the lead in the 16th minute, an innocent-looking cross from Byrne somehow evading the keeper and looping on to the bar before it was cleared by a grateful defence.

This woke the visitors up, and they enjoyed food possession for long periods, but without ever troubling Burton, and it was Rovers who extended their lead as the away team’s discipline seemed to depart them. More good work from Byrne, who hung a cross under the crossbar, where Camilo met it with a rare headed effort.

Half Time: Willand 2 – Plymouth Parkway 0

The home team nearly self-destructed early in the second half in almost comedic fashion. A free kick from wide on the right was inexplicably played short and lost, stranding both centre halfs who had been sent to pose an aerial threat. While Parkway were unable to capitalise on the short-handed Willand defence, it was quite a sight to see Edwards sprinting back into position, doing a more than passable impression of Alan Wells.

Willand came close again shortly after, Byrnes trickery taking him past a couple of Parkway defenders before he placed his shot the wrong side of the upright.

The Parkway players and management had clearly read an early draft of this report, and as their frustrations grew, so did the volume of their complaints, with both linemen becoming targets for their perceived misdemeanours.

Not that Willand let this affect their game, and Camilo extended the lead further in the 75th minute. His initial free kick having hit the wall, he took the rebound in his stride and smashed the ball past a static keeper from 20 yards.

To their collective credit, Plymouth continued to battle and pulled a goal back in the 82nd minute, Lane breaking through the Willand backline before deftly chipping the stranded Burton. The visitors continued to push but couldn’t trouble the Willand goal, and as the final whistle blew, it was the home faithful who left Silver Street happy as they attempted to thaw both themselves and their cars.

One final thought from me, though. I’m not sure who was awarded man of the match tonight; quite honestly, it could have been anyone. But a special mention goes to Baker, Wright, and Byrne, who were magnificent all game.

They hassled and harassed the much larger and more experienced Parkway defence, giving them no chance to settle into any kind of rhythm, and defended from the front superbly.

I can guarantee there will be no complaints about any of the players tonight.

Full Time Willand 3 – Plymouth Parkway 1