A headed goal from skipper Adam Hill was enough to make sure Willand Rovers’ title destiny was in their own hands on Wednesday night in a tense penultimate league match against Bridgwater Town at Silver Street writes Kerry Miller.
Just two weeks after the sides fought a pitched battle in the Les Phillips Cup semi-final and with the unpleasant taste of social media postings ramping up the tension, Rovers were aware that one win and a draw would be enough to clinch the Toolstation League Premier Division title while Bridgwater had secured an excellent fourth spot and were in no mood to roll over. Predictably the teams went for each other from the spot with tackles flying and players rolling around and demanding bookings but referee Phil Eddie was having none of it and once that sank in they began to play. It took half an hour for the first chance to show itself, and that a 30 yard drive from Sam Towler which shaved the crossbar then from a breakdown of an attack on the Willand penalty area they broke at speed and Mike Duffy fed Jack Taylor whose lob was somehow clawed away by Mike Searle in the home goal. Rovers should have taken the lead before the break when Luke Alden and Brad Ausden were given too much space in the box but the final effort was fired over from close range then Ryan Guppy’s cross was volleyed over by Luke Mortimore. Bridgy thought they had taken the lead right on the whistle when a corner was not cleared and Jake Brown stabbed the ball towards goal from two yards only to watch it somehow kept out by a flailing home boot.
The 258 strong crowd included a healthy contingent of away fans plus parties from Plymouth Parkway and Bitton and they watched on as Willand went off the boil in the second half and Bridgwater sensed they could make an impact. Duffy went close then Towler lobbed over and as the hour mark came and went home chances were few and far between. Ian Bellinger relit the flames with a late tackle which earned him a booking but as in the first half Willand came alive and after Harry Horton had come within a few inches of netting an own goal a Brett Worbey corner was headed in by Hill with the ball crashing into the top of the net off a defender’s boot to cue wild celebrations.
It means that Willand need just a point at Bitton on Saturday as they have a vastly superior goal difference while Bitton are effectively chasing runners-up as they would need to beat Willand 18-0 and hope Parkway lose at Chipping Sodbury Town. Parkway and Willand then meet again in the Les Phillips Cup final at Sherborne on May 6 with both chasing the league and cup double to end what has been a stunning season.