Willand Rovers Under-18s were 10-0 winners in a County Under-18 league game at Sidmouth, writes Steve Hayfield.

Rovers pitched up at Sidmouth for the eagerly awaited first game of the new season and for their first outing in the Devon Youth U18’s League.

The pitch was in good shape and it was noted by players, officials and supporters that the home club made everyone feel very welcome, which was great to see.

The first half particularly was well contested and the end score line did not really reflect the effort and the ability of the Sidmouth side. Early exchanges were hard fought and the deadlock was only broken when Nick Merriam seized upon a poor defensive pass to brilliantly chip the goal keeper to make it one nil to the visitors.

Willand continued to work hard to earn possession and after losing striker Merriam to injury after a brave challenge in front of goal scored two cracking goals to make it three nil at half time. The second came from a great first touch and movement from Joseph Vittles who then dispatched the ball accurately and low from distance into the corner and beyond the reach of the keeper and this was followed by a great 25 yard strike from Dan Hayfield.

Sidmouth had some good chances and forward play and despite the score line at half time had worked hard and made the game even for much of the play in the first half, although Willand had progressively used the space of the pitch well and played some attractive football, at times over playing through midfield.

In the second half, the visitors started brightly and even more determined than in the first half and tightened up defensively. In particular, they also improved the accuracy of their passing through the middle of the park and kept procession really well. The link up play between the midfield and strikers became more purposeful and this led to the game getting tougher for the home side. Great interplay led to further goals with Dan Hayfield scoring two to achieve his hat-trick, two from Caspian Aplin and ReeceKingdom from midfield and one from Jordan Armstrong who worked tirelessly up front and having had a number of efforts brilliantly saved by the home keeper he deservedly got his reward.

The home side also brought several excellent saves out of the visiting keeper, Jez Cross and were a credit to their club through sheer effort and determination to keep going despite a heavy score line against them.

Overall, Willand thoroughly deserved the win and played some excellent football at times.

A mention also for the referee, Phil Bialyk, who had an excellent game and allowed it to flow really well.