Minehead 2 Willand U15’s 6 (Taunton and District League quarter final)
The Rovers U15’s team came through their sternest test to date against higher league Minehead in a fiercely contested Taunton and District League quarter final at the impressive Irnham Road ground that once hosted Southern League Football.
The unbeaten Rovers showed their versatility and resolve having to start without first choice centre backs Chris Badcott (injured) and Matt Futcher (unavailable). However, in Haydn Tucker and Captain Tom Jeacock the replacements were imperious. The best possible start to the game saw winger Kai Morgan smash an unstoppable drive from twenty yards to give Willand the lead on five minutes. This lead to a sustained period of pressure from Minehead which culminated in a penalty ten minutes into the first half. However showing true determination Rovers glovesman Ben Gubb dived full length to turn the penalty round the post in what was to be the goalkeeper’s most impressive shift this season. Such heroics though were shortlived as from the resultant corner Minehead struck to restore parity at one goal a piece. For the next ten minutes Minehead continued to pile on wave after wave of attacks but full backs Ryan Borkowski and Harry Taylor refused to buckle in the heat of battle. This resilience along with the hard work of centre midfielders Jacob Turner and Aiden Harrison saw the ship settled and the momentum changed to the boys in white. From a corner delivered by Oscar Walsh it was Jacob Turner who rose higher than anyone to power home a header on 35 minutes to ensure that Willand went in at the break 2-1 to the good.
The second half began with the substitutes bringing energy and drive in the form of Christian Whales and Josh Herbert. Minehead were continuing to probe in the hope of getting back on level terms but were always wary of the threat that Rovers front man Sam Ayres posed. This was a very rare day in which Ayres didn’t score but his workrate the whole game was phenomenal. What Minehead didn’t see coming though was a goal of equisite quality from Christian Whales who danced his way through the defence to open a handy two goal cushion at 3-1. Minehead though weren’t going to give up easily and five minutes later were awarded their second penalty which despite the best efforts of Ben Gubb brought this exciting game back to 3-2 with twenty minutes remaining. This only seemed to galvanise the young Rovers who with the introduction of substitute Oli Billings found a new gear. On 65 minutes the mercurial Christian Whales effectively won the game when switching from left to right feet he found the bottom corner of the net in sumptuous fashion to put Willand 4-2 up. Minehead knew that they had to throw caution to the wind to get back into it. However, Oli Billings and Josh Herbert were breaking up Minehead attacks and then sending speedsters Gareth Blackmore and Oscar Walsh on the counter attack. Two further goals of real quality on the counter from Walsh and Blackmore put a healthy gloss on what had been a total team performance to run out 6-2 winners in what had been a hard game played in great spirit from both teams. Willand U15’s now go forward to a semi-final match against either Tone Youth or Twyford in what is turning out to be a fabulous first season together.
Man of the Match was Haydn Tucker who was the rock at the back.
Goals were shared out on the day between Walsh 1, Morgan 1, Whales 2, Turner 1 and Blackmore 1
The Willand Line up: Ben Gubb, Hayden Tucker, Harry Taylor, Ryan Borkowski, Tom Jeacock (Capt), Jacob Turner, Aiden Harrison, Christian Whales, Oscar Walsh, Sam Ayers, Gareth Blackmore and Kai Morgan. Subs: Oli Billings, Christian Whales and Josh Herbert.