Rovers edged out by Tivvy in cup semi-final

There was an air of anticipation all around before this game got underway. When the sides met in the league in November, Willand had deservedly run out winners, by 4 goals to 2. Since then though, Tiverton had improved and recently gotten through to the Devon County Cup Final, whereas the hosts stop-and-start campaign hadn’t done them any favours.

The pitch was in good order and under a bright sun but stiff breeze, the game got under way with Brian Holmes.

Early exchanges were good but then on 7′ minutes Tiverton were ahead. From the left-hand edge of the penalty area, a lofted ball seemed destined to float over Jez Cross’ crossbar but then it seemed to dip and it agonisingly fell into the back of the net. 0-1.

Yet again, Willand had fallen behind to a slightly fortunate shot but how would they respond.

For the rest of the half, they probed without really threatening the visitors goal but some of the build-up play was excellent. At the back, captain Ash Matthews was in control and the only time Cross was forced into a save was when he had to react quickly to an opponent closing in on his near post. Cross blocked well with his legs.

Into the second half and a free-kick after 56′ by Matthews was competed for by Cas Aplin and the Tiverton ‘keeper. The ball fell for Tim Miles whose shot was blocked but it looped up and Aplin headed the ball home from 4 yards. 1-1.

The goal lifted Willand for a time and they looked dangerous every time they went forward. Jordan Armstrong worked hard but was usually marshalled very well by the Tiverton rearguard.

Willand had a chance from a corner headed off the line and Tiverton had a shot glance off the crossbar from a similar set-piece.

It looked like extra-time all over until Max Bristowe collected a ball to the left of the Willand area. He moved inside and sent in a shot that was going wide but it took a wicked deflection off Matthews and bounced into the goal at the near post.

It was cruel luck in a game where neither team had created many openings. But that’s football.

A much better performance by Willand for whom 5 or 6 are getting into the Reserves regularly now.

Well controlled by Brian Holmes too. The only time he had to get his yellow card out was for a late challenge from behind on ReeceKingdom but otherwise, it really wasn’t that sort of game.