Willand Rovers 2 – 0 Street
Wednesday 23rd August 2017
Willand revved up for their forthcoming FA Cup trip to Merthyr Town with a fine victory over much fancied Street at the Stan Robinson Stadium on Wednesday evening writes Kerry Miller.
Two goals from Adam Hill, one a penalty five minutes from time consigned the visitors to their first league defeat of the season and it was compounded by a straight red card to Lee Sweet in injury time, presumably for foul or abusive language to the linesman. In truth, it had been coming and Street will have to look to their consistency, as well as their self-discipline on and off the pitch, if they are to maintain a title challenge.
On what is an excellent surface at Silver Street both teams settled quickly and Joe Curtis put young Josh Searle away and the young former Taunton Town wingerâ€™s cross was just scrambled away in Willandâ€™s first attack. The second was even closer as from a corner Searle fed Luke Mortimore and his curling effort came back of the bar to safety. Another ex-Taunton man Craig Veal, who is on dual affiliation with Southern League Bideford, then charged down a Tom Punchard clearance but was unlucky with the rebound before Street got into their stride and a third ex-Taunton man, Lewis Waldy was just a yard over the bar from 30 yards. The strong forward line which has in spells looked devastating so far for Street, was out of touch and with catalyst Craig Herrod seemingly starved of the ball they were feeding on scraps for the first half hour.
Steve Murray nodded wide then at the other end Brett Worbey had a shot blocked for the home club but on the half hour they took a deserved lead. Ben Amgharâ€™s foul led to Worbey curling in a free-kick and when it arrived at the feet of Hill he had enough composure to plant his right foot shot past Punchard.
Street replied positively and a fine move ended with Dave Oâ€™Hare driving over but Willand were looking eager and young Searle strode forward before Mortimore was denied by a superb block by Street man of the match Kai Fisher. Streetâ€™s frustration had already begun to show itself with a constant dialogue towards young referee Cairan Barlow and it was not helped when Mortimore went in late on Sweet, and was possibly lucky to escape with just a yellow card.
James Blake ended the half for Willand with a hook shot which went close as they went in a goal to the good.
Murray made way for Harry Foster for the second half which began with Willand squandering a gilt edged chance when Mortimore was given too much time in the 12 yard box but somehow scuffed his shot straight at Punchard. Amghar then joined Mortimore in the book and seconds later Blake saw his effort cleared off the line for Willand who were going for the jugular.
Streetâ€™s attacks had become more sporadic until Waldy had a shot blocked and Herrodâ€™s cross brought a save from Angharâ€™s header. They looked to have gained some momentum as Josh Wadham had a free-kick saved by Searle before Hill sliced a Sweet cross just over his own bar. Street thought they had found a way back into the game with ten minutes left when Herrodâ€™s inch-perfect cross found Fosterâ€™s head but his goal bound effort was somehow clawed away by Searle and what had been a fine 15 minute spell for the away side visibly drained away.
Willand took advantage and when Hill confidently stroked in the penalty following a foul it was game over. Foster was wide with Streetâ€™s final attack which left enough time for Sweet to see red and the points stay in Devon.
The victory takes Willand up to fourth place in the Premier Division table and if they can maintain that form on Merthyrâ€™s 4G pitch at Penydarren Park on Saturday week they will give the Welsh side something to think about. With the game on the same day as Walesâ€™s international side play, there was some discussion regarding dates and times for kick-off but as of now it is 3pm on the Saturday.
For Street, they must quickly go back to basics as their pre and early season form showed they can beat anyone when they click and when not wasting valuable energy arguing with all and sundry.