Under a warming sun, on a green but bumpy pitch, the signs were ominous, writes Nick Miles.
My teams have lost two cup finals and never won a league game on this ground but today would be a good day to start.
Being a larger than normal pitch, rather than start with the favoured 3-4-3 line-up, Willand started with the traditional 4-4-2, playing down the slope.
The team’s earlier work gave lots of possession in all areas. After 6 minutes, Reece Kingdom showed good feet and his eventual cross was headed in at the near post for a trademark finish from Cas Aplin. 1-0.
It was 2-0 after 9′ when great link-up play between Ash Matthews playing in central midfield and Tarji Jones on the right, led to a perfectly weighted ground pass into the path of Jordan Armstrong. Jordan didn’t break stride and cutting into the box, his fierce shot beat the ‘keeper at his near-post. 2-0.
Then Dan Hayfield fed Armstrong and this was a trademark finish from the left into the far corner. 3-0.
Chances for Armstrong’s hat-trick came and went as gradually the hosts got into the game more. They hadn’t really troubled Jez Cross in his goal though……………until an innocuous but controversial free-kick near Willand’s right touchline somehow squirmed right across the face of goal to be tapped in at the far stick. 3-1 after 38′.
Into the second half and Crediton’s tails were up on the counter-attack. Willand seemed to lose their way in the build-up stage of their attacks and this put the defence under pressure and the hosts simply flighted the ball forward into space at every opportunity. After 52, they reduced the deficit by one with a good finish on the left, under pressure. 3-2.
Then they came close again with a shot that went the wrong side on 58′ and another that was wide by a yard on 60′. Willand though began to tighten control of the midfield and play in the wide areas in Crediton’s defensive third. Suddenly Ash Matthews broke from the midfield and from fully 20 yards, he curled a worldie into the ‘keeper’s top left hand corner for 4-2 on 67′.
Joe Vittles came on for the ever-so hardworking Cas Aplin on 60′ and provided the inspiration for better-build up plays and he showed his happy knack of being in the right place for 2 very well taken goals on 72′ and 80′.
Willand should have secured a bigger win but then to have done so would have been harsh on Crediton whose defence worked hard throughout.