Willand Rovers 3 Plymouth Argyle 2
Devon St Lukes Bowl quarter-final
Willand duly set up the juicy possibility of a St Lukes Bowl semi-final derby with Cullompton Rangers after they finally got past a young and resolute Argyle side, mainly made up of their SW Peninsula League squad and watched by first team boss Derek Adams, on Wednesday night writes Kerry Miller.
In the end the difference was a clumsy challenge on Craig Veal in the penalty area which he got up to punish from the spot, for his second goal of the evening which was all the more frustrating for Argyle, who rallied well and dominated for enough of the second half to all but take the tie to penalty kicks.
On what was a chilly and windy night at Silver Street Argyle got off to the perfect start when Luke Jephcott was on the end of a cross from the right and drilled a shot under keeper Mike Searle on 13 minutes. The lead lasted little more than one attack as Rovers put together a fine move and Josh Searle was on the end of a deft flick to drive home the equaliser past Michael Cooper.
The mainly teenage visitors all had pace but they struggled to contain Veal, who was lightning fast and he almost beat Cooper to the ball only to be blocked out at the last second. Willand were looking good going forward in what was a match full of skill while being devoid of nastiness or dissent and as the action continued Brad Ausden blazed over the bar and onto the road from the edge of the area midway through the half. The reprise lasted moments as just past the half hour Luke Alden released Veal and he timed his shot to perfection over Cooper to give his side the lead.
Ausden then watched as Cooper tipped away his shot before at the other end Jephcott headed wide from a promising position but young Cooper made the save of the half late on to deny Alden. He rode hi sluck just on the break as once again Veal’s pace was too much for the defence and his cross found Ausden stretching from two yards out but somehow the ball crashed against the bar And stayed out.
From the restart Argyle got stronger and Billy Craske was seeing plenty of the ball and was beginning to stand out and when he set up Dan Rooney, the striker’s shot from 15 yards went over rather than in as Willand were almost punished for dozing off. Seven minutes into the half it all changed as Veal was clattered from behind in the area and he made it a double from the spot to give his side a two goal cushion, just as news came through that Cullompton were on their way to winning in the other quarter-final at Exmouth Town.
Willand should in truth have gone on to win with ease but they allowed Argyle to build momentum and after Veal had crashed shot into the side-netting Argyle’s Tom Purrington went onto a solo mission and his left foot effort sailed just wide with Searle watching on. Cameron Sangster then floated a free-kick in and the strong wind all but carried it in but Searle was alert and tipped the ball away, only to be beaten just past the hour mark. A cross from the left was missed by all except Craske who was on the far post and made no mistake to pull it back to 3-2.
Willand had dropped back deep which allowed Argyle to press on and Craske again brought a save out of Searle then from a corner triallist Sandro Embalo had a header saved but the equaliser would not come and having weathered the storm Willand all but made it safe late on as Luke Mortimore and Alden combined to force Cooper to parry out to Veal but it was kept out and Willand take their place in the last four alongside Cullompton Rangers.
Press and Media Officer
Toolstation Western League