Premier Division Willand Rovers pocketed a very handy winner’s cheque on Wednesday night and in doing so booked a home tie with newly promoted Southern League side Street on Saturday week in the preliminary round of the FA Cup writes Kerry Miller.
The 3-0 scoreline looks comfortable enough but it was far from that as Shepton were right in the game until 20 minutes from time when a fine Luke Alden finish sealed the deal.
Shepton lined up without their impressive young keeper Tom Easterbrook who has gone to Nottingham University and striker Tyson Pollard who was on holiday, as was joint boss Jon Burr and they missed a battling performance which included debuts for Ryan Fry and Jammeh Malick.
Willand had the best of the opening half while Shepton played some excellent football without creating much in the way of chances and the home team went close early when Brad Ausden was put through and cut inside but his shot lacked power and was saved by new keeper Charlie Phillips. The visitors retaliated as Luke Ingram latched on to a long pass to lob over Mike Searle then Luke Mortimore and Ausden combined but Phillips was equal to the move with a flying save. There was no shortage of action as home full back Ryan Guppy had a shot saved then was deep in the defence to snuff out a promising situation twice in the same attack but the pressure was to tell and seven minutes from the break Josh Searle picked up a cross field pass and hit a sweet left footed drive past Phillips for the opener. The youngster almost set up the second just on the break with a whipped cross but Ausden could not connect from close range.
Shepton’s endeavour continued in the second half but with the bonus of chances created and Tom Hill scuffed his shot when in a good position and both substitute Ash Willmott and Joe Morgan went close. Willand were also looking good as befits a team at the top of the league and Jed Harper-Penman drove wide before Searle’s long drive cannoned back off the post into Phillips’ arms for a big let off. Mortimore crushed Plymouth Parkway with a clinical hat-trick seven days earlier but he could not add to his tally on the hour after Brett Worbey put him through but it was not to prove costly. Worbey then threaded another pass to Alden and he drew Phiilips before slottin g home the second with 19 minutes left to all but kill off the tie which they had been seconds from losing in the original game.
Shepton skipper James Billing then could only watch as Searle somehow kept out his point blank effort and the visitors showed they were not beaten as towering substitute Dale Hunt twice went close to halving the deficit. Just near the end Harper-Penman and Worbey almost exploited the space as the visitors pushed up in a vain bid for a goal but it did come right at the end when Harper-Penman slammed home the third from 18 yards to complete a good performance from Willand who look to be shaping up for a successful season.

Kerry Miller
Press and Media Officer
Toolstation Western League