County Cup Winners 2015

County Cup Winners 2015

Devon County Under 18s FA Cup Final @ Coach Road, April 28th 2015 SB Frankfort 1 Willand Rovers 3 HT 0-1 (Johnson, Gibbins, Bickle)

Link to photos from the game here :

What a game! What a game!

Having taken the lead in the 26th minute through Sam Johnson, Willand Rovers couldn’t increase their advantage and then with 20 minutes to go found themselves level again following SB Frankfort’s only goal-bound effort in the second period.

As they took some time to sort themselves out, the White Ravens then had 2 goals ruled out for offside before Frankfort’s keeper could only block substitute Sam Rawlings’s low shot and Alex Gibbins won the race to bundle the ball over the line after 88 minutes. 2-1. As the game was drawing to a close, so Ben Bickle danced free of his marker and ran into the box and drilled a delightful third goal into the far corner for 3-1.

On reflection, the margin of victory might have been greater but you need to take your chances. And there were quite a few! Willand started well and gradually found openings through fine flank play from Nathan Antat and Man of the Match Tarji Jones. (Interesting that before the game, Tarji’s ID card temporarily couldn’t be found and there was a worry he may not have been able to play!).

After 11′, Alex Gibbins miscued his shot when anything on target might well have gone in and then 4 minutes later, he missed the target completely when it seemed easier to pass Jordan Bastin’s perfect pass into the net. And then he miscued another great opening.

But good players don’t hide and Willand took the lead when Bickle set-up Gibbins for a shot on the turn. His effort was blocked only for the very alert Sam Johnson to control and then pass over the goal-line. Later, a great cross by Antat was headed at goal by Jones only to see the ‘keeper pull off a breathtaking save.

At the other end, Jez Cross had to deal with a few set-pieces and tipped one shot over the bar. Jordan J-Band Major blocked a goal bound shot from SB Frankfort’s most dangerous player, who was a real handful all night. Generally, until halftime, Willand were comfortable but they could do with a second goal.

After the break, SB Frankfort came at Rovers for 5 minutes but then Willand got the upper hand. Gibbins and Johnson were inches short on 3 occasions from being able to latch onto through balls after which the Frankfort keeper showed how good he was at reading the early threat.

Then, with 20 minutes to go, Jake Tillet came on for Antat, and Jones switched wings. But a long ball found the stocky black Frankfort striker in the box and his instinctive turn and slightly scuffed shot beat Jez Cross at his far post. 1-1. Frankfort couldn’t really take advantage (credit has to be given to Ash Matthews who won every aerial battle on the SB centreforward in the second half) but it was hard to see, after all their hard work, whether Willand could raise themselves.

Another substitution and Sam Rawlings replaced Johnson. Willand found second wind. Tillett burst free on the left and his blistering shot on the run was narrowly wide of the far angle. Jones and Bickle started to get past their markers and when Jones cross was bundled home from 3 yards by Bastin, there was some surprise when the linesman put up his flag for offside. And minutes later he did the same thing again as Gibbins this time put the ball in from 3 feet only to be ruled offside.

But just when everyone was preparing to go to extra-time, Sam Rawlings’ quick-feet to find space and snap shot was part saved by the keeper and Gibbins does what he does best – he reacts quickest. 2-1. Bickle’s goal was the icing on the cake but this was a team performance.

The football at times was very good. At the back, Alex Wright was effective as usual and the Matthews/Major partnership was outstanding. Reece Kingdom was his usual tigerish self. Jack Rawlings, JJ Vittles and Reece Browning all came on towards the end and their part in an excellent season should be noted. The post match celebrations were boisterous and colourful and later, some of the Willand squad went out on the town to celebrate loud and proud.

Many, many thanks to all those from Willand who made the trip, including, Mitch, Scott, Dumper and Danny Jee (one of my inspirations from my early coaching days). Thanks to all the supporters and fans (and parents) who have supported this team all season and to Wiland Rovers FC for having us. Special mention to Andy Barnard who couldn’t be at this game but who has seen a number of our away matches. Special thanks to Darren Cork who has been a tremendous help and deserves a longer mention if only for all the years he’s put into youth football coaching too. With the other youth sides coming through at the club, the future couldn’t look much healthier.


This was the report on the FA’s website:

Willand Leave It Late To Clinch Cup

  • image:

A fantastic finish to the game saw Willand Rovers score two late goals to help them snatch the Devon Under 18’s Youth Cup at the expense of SB Frankfort.

Wotton Printers Devon Under 18’s Youth Cup Final Willand Rovers Youth 3 – 1 SB Frankfort Youth Played at Coach Road, Newton Abbot 28/04/15

League and Cup Double for Willand Rovers Youth

Devon County Youth League champions Willand Rovers had to work hard to overcome their opponents SB Frankfort from the lower reaches of the Devon Junior and Minor Leagues under 18 Cambridge division. Indeed SB were only in the final due to their semi-final opposition being excluded having breached player eligibility rules and were really not expected to provide much of a test for a Willand side fielding six of the Devon County Youth team that recently won the South and West Counties Mick Parry trophy. [This comment is a little unfair on SB who only “lost” the semi-final against their run-a-way league leaders, Elburton Villa, 2-1 – Ed].

That was far from the case however and lining up in a 4-5-1 formation they almost caught Willand cold with a first minute attack culminating in a shot from Arthur Mbahin that was blocked by two defenders. Three minutes later a free kick taken by Aaron Bevan flew just wide of the far post and it was becoming clear that SB were not overawed. Willand, playing a conventional 4-4-2 were struggling to cope with SB’s extra man in midfield but stuck to their game plan and gradually forced their way into the game.

Twenty minutes in Tarji Jones’ cross from the right found Alex Gibbins in front of goal but he shot wide from six yards. It didn’t look as if it was going to be Gibbin’s night as three minutes later the normally prolific striker again shot wide from a similar position. However, he was able to claim an assist for the first goal in that in the 26th minute it was his fierce shot from 22 yards that Dan Wardle in the SB goal could only parry and Sam Johnson, following up, slotted home to give Willand a lead they barely deserved.

The game started to open up and SB should have equalised when in the 35th minute Courtney Edwards, found unmarked at the far post by an in-swinging corner, headed over.

Five minutes later only a brilliant save by Wardle prevented Willand increasing their lead when he blocked a shot from Jones who attempted to hammer home an excellent cross from Ben Bickle that found him only three yards out.

Tarji Jones was having a massive influence with his raids down the left wing but half time came in this absorbing contest with the score remaining at one nil.

SB Frankfort started the second half as they had the first and only one minute in Bevan got on the end of a cross from Connor Buckley-Mellor and brought a good save from the Willand keeper Jez Cross.

SB started to use the repeat substitution system to good effect such that all sixteen in their squad had an input into the game. In the 74th minute the tactic clearly paid off when Tino Mwadeyi, who had just come on to the field to replace Bevan, slotted home a cross from Tom Kittle to level the score 1 – 1.

Willand were stung into action and had the ball in the SB net twice in a ten minute spell but, on both occasions the flag went up for offside. Wardle was now by far the busier of the two keepers and pulled off a number of fine saves before he was eventually beaten for the second time. Having brought off a brilliant save to deny Willand substitute Sam Rawlings he was powerless to prevent Gibbins hammering the rebound into the back of the net from 10 yards.

It was all Willand now and they were not to be denied. In the third minute of added time, Bickle received a pass from Ashley Mathews and drove a shot into the far corner which Wardle was powerless to stop making the final score 3 – 1. Both teams had given their all in an entertaining game enjoyed by some 150 spectators but it was Willand captain Ashley Matthews who stepped up to receive the County Youth Cup from Roger Mann of Wotton Printers to go with the league championship they had already won.

Star player Tarji Jones (Willand Rovers Youth) The next final is the Firewatch Senior Cup between Exwick Villa Res and Lapford at Coach Road on Thursday 30th April at 7.00pm followed on Sunday 3rd May by the Swiftprint Sunday Senior Final between The Windmill and Heavitree Social United again at Coach Road with a 11.00 am kick off. The Edenvale Turf Ltd Devon St Lukes Challenge Cup Final between Plymouth Argyle and Bideford is also taking place at Coach Road, Newton Abbot on Tuesday 4th May at 7.30pm. Link to photos from the game here :