Eagerly awaited since the start of the season, the local derby took place at Silver Street under leaden skies and on a soft, sticky pitch, writes Nick Miles.
Willand defended the Clubhouse End and kicked-off with a 4-4-2 formation. Five had turned out for the Reserves’ Premier fixture at Heavitree the day before but thankfully, the evidence of their endeavours didn’t show until well into the second half.
Rovers were lively down both flanks early on but unlocking an energetic Cullompton rear-guard action was proving difficult. And when they got beyond the outfield, there were the renowned hands of Jordan Tinham to get past. The football build-up was good from the hosts who generally restarted play from Jez Cross’ hands but being repeatedly rebuffed was testing their desire.
Then Cullompton came close when a long cross from the right fell to their lively forward whose low cross-shot went a foot wide of the far post. This re-focussed Willand and their reward came from a sustained period of pressure, on 29 minutes.
The ball had moved down both flanks and when Tim Miles collected the ball on the right, he drifted past two challenges, shaped to shoot and then laid the ball off to Nick Merriam. The boy has quick feet and when he touched the ball from right to left, it gave him the yard he needed to bend a great shot (on his wrong foot!!) past Tinham’s right arm for 1-0.
Five minutes later and the lead was doubled when an excellent Reece Kingdom pass was collected by Jordan Armstrong and having seen a previous 1v1 saved, he expertly slid this chance home. Cullompton offered very little in Willand’s half now but the whites could not extend their lead.
Into the second half and this time Hayfield fed Armstrong who burst into the area and pulled the trigger in a similar style to his first strike with 50′ gone. 3-0.
The finishing was becoming emphatic and minutes later from a Kingdom corner, the ball fell to Hayfield 20 yards out. It was a very sweet strike and Digger had no chance as the ball hit the corner of the net. 4-0.
Then Willand seemed to run out of a bit of steam. Passing the ball around, it was intercepted and Cullompton’s right winger was released. He drove into the area and his low drive at the near-post was a deserved reward for a fine strike.
This woke up Willand and the last 20′ was rather one-way. At some point, Cullompton went down to 10 players and they battled hard, it must be said. Full credit to them but so too Rovers who went back to the grindstone to get the goal back.
Armstrong grabbed another hat-trick (the boy’s finishing is excellent) and after Digger had pounded the turf in frustration, JJ Vittles added a 6th in the last 8′ from close in. Other chances came and went in a good overall team performance.
Reece Kingdom and Ash Matthew’s were very good today and Alex Wright was commanding in defence. Macca Broom was inspirational although he couldn’t get on the scoresheet while Tom Roberts, Anthony Ansell and Cas Aplin all chipped in too.