Wellington’s 0-2 defeat by Willand in the local derby on Saturday 20 October was a notably tight affair with the home side matching their visitors for much of the game. Given that Wellington suffered a heavy defeat by Willand last season when the Devon team finished in 3rd place in the Toolstation Premier League – a division which they now lead – this was a commendable and encouraging performance.
At half-time the score was 0-0. Willand created more chances in the first 45 minutes and Wellington’s keeper Josh Mclean was required to make a number of saves. Other attacks led to the ball failing to hit the target. But Wellington put together some surging attacks of their own and might have scored had the final shots been on target.
The difference in the two teams was, arguably, in the visitors’ more precise skills, particularly in retaining possession of the ball, their agility and strong formation. Wellington’s strengths in this match were their determination, team-work and robust energy. Conor Bryant was a constant threat near the Willand goal and required careful monitoring by the visitors’ defenders. Glen Wright was dangerous with his ball-control and agility.
It was not until 15 minutes into the second half that the breakthrough came for the league leaders. George Painter, judged to have handled the ball in the penalty area, was shown a red card and Willand’s Josh Searle scored from the spot.
Whilst playing with 10 men against a confident, able side for 30 minutes of the second half might have led to Wellington conceding more goals, the Tangerines to their credit showed no sign of being downhearted and continued to play strong, attacking football. It wasn’t until an outstanding effort on 87 minutes brought the second goal when a free kick wide on the right was headed into the net by Craig Duff, giving Josh Mclean no chance to save.
Even then, Wellington continued to battle and Glen Wright headed wide after a loud appeal for a penalty had been turned down by the referee.
A strong and consistently reliable performance by defender Jack Porter earned him the Man of the Match award.
Willand remain at the head of the table on 28 points and are favourites for promotion. Wellington are in 11th place with 13 points but, if they can maintain the standard of play and level of determination shown in this match, should climb higher. Next week – on Saturday 27 October – they travel to Cribbs. Their opponents are in 16th place.
It was good to see 124 spectators – the second highest of the division on the day – lining three sides of the North Street ground on a perfect afternoon.