Category: Match Report

REPORT: Bradninch Villa 5 – 2 Central II


Goal Scorers

James Howe x 4

Harry Coombe x 1


White (GK), Tree, T. Scrace (C), Brown, Jenner, Holmes, Coombe, Boyce, L. Scrace, Goff, Howe

Subs: Rawlings, Birley, Hodge, Burnett


It hasn’t been an easy ride for Bradninch Villa so far this season with top of the table clashes, suspensions and multiple injuries to deal with. However, for the first time this season Leigh Brooks was able to name an unchanged side from the 10-2 victory over Exmouth Town III last weekend.

But despite their dominant display, Villa were aware that it would count for nothing unless they could replicate the same sort of performance on and off the ball as they welcome Central II to the hallowed turf at Kensham Park.

That very turf soon turned to a top layer of mud as the heavens opened 24 hours before kick-off, leaving the pitch in conditions that would be tough for a footballer at even the highest level.

If the weather had any sort of positive affect it was how it impacted the game, which was end-to-end from the first whistle with both sides struggling to control the pace of the ball in and around the centre of midfield.

Sprints turned into jogs, passes turned into clearances. All of this in the first five minutes left stand-in manager Neville England thinking it may just be ‘one of those days’.

However, Villa were keen to cancel out their typical mistake of conceding early goals and instead held out to a multitude of Central II attacks on goalkeeper Jake White, who pulled off a series of acrobatic saves to deny the oppositions centre forward.

Whilst Cental’s high press left Villa squeezed at the back, it provided the perfect opportunity to break away on the counter attack with striker James Howe waiting patiently for the ball to fall in his stride.

It wasn’t until the latter stages of the first half that Villa really started to turn on the style, Harry Coombe taking charge of turning defence into attack whilst Liam Holmes continued to support his counterpart with the uglier side of the game.

Steven Boyce and Leo Scrace made charges at goal but the poor weather had taken its toll on the pitch, making it hard to test the keeper with any real conviction against a well-organised Central defence.


Goalless at half-time left England and captain, Todd Scrace, with some analysis to do and this time the instructions were simple… “keep doing what you’re doing, and the moment will come”.

It didn’t take long for those words to pay off as Villa’s number nine, Howe, managed to wriggle away from the defence and latch on to a Scrace through ball before stroking home with his weaker foot, leaving the goalkeeper flat footed in the process.

Villa were on top and hungry for more, knowing that a second goal could really kill off this game and leave them with a real chance of climbing the league table by the end of the day.

Optimism soon turned sour as, against the run of play, Central found their left winger with room to whip a ball into the box. That cross was met by their striker who had proved to be a real nuisance so far and his hard work paid off, getting his goal 65 minutes into this Division 8 contest.

Villa, dejected with heads down, soon found their rhythm again and continued to play football along the floor, not an easy thing to do when the centre circle resembled an ice rink.

But with all the wonderful football, sometimes you need a moment of magic (or madness) and that soon came in the form of James Howe, who collected the ball from a throw in and, whilst 30 yards away from goal, managed to take a touch and turn before lobbing the keeper with a sumptuous half volley.

It’s what Villa needed, it’s what caretaker boss England needed, and quite frankly it’s what the shivering fans needed, who by the way had turned out in full force to cheer on the boys following the earlier cancellation of the Bradninch Town game.

Villa started to dictate the tempo and as Todd Scrace picked out a peach of a clearance it allowed Curtis Goff to break free of his marker and cut back a cross to find Howe, who completed his hat-trick whilst making it seven goals in two games!

Not long after, Howe and Goff combined yet again as the latter took his time to chip a lofted through ball over two Central defenders leaving Villa’s striker with nothing left to do except grab his fourth goal of the game and wrap up the points with a calm finish into the bottom left-hand corner.

Villa were then reminded of what can happen when concentration is lost for a split second and Central soon sniffed out what looked to be a late surge with a smart finish past White, who had shown glimmers of his best form on multiple occasions.

Central were up against it though and time was not their only obstacle. This time Villa turned to the partnership of Dom Tree and Harry Coombe to put the cherry on the cake.

Two of Villa’s best performers on the day managed to link up on the right-hand side of midfield with Tree bursting forward, slotting a ball through the defence that left Coombe with enough time to pick his spot and leave the Villa squad reaping the rewards of yet another hard earned three points.


This weeks MOTM was hotly contested but the joint decision from Neville England and Todd Scrace resulted in Dom Tree rewarded for his efforts at right-back.

Calm, controlled and confident, Tree is quietly making this position his own after being thrown into the deep end by Brooks during last weekends 10-2 victory over Exmouth Town III.

Tree worked well on the right hand side, looking to break away down the wing when possible but keeping his composure at the other end of the pitch whilst standing up to Central’s strikers on the edge of the penalty area.

That win lifts Villa up to eighth in the table and three points from the top half as they set their sights on another home tie this weekend, welcoming Millwey Rise II who will be equally prepared for a battle.

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Exmouth Town III v Bradninch Villa REVIEW


Goal Scorers

    • James Howe x 4
    • Steven Boyce x 2
    • Harry Coombe x 1
    • Curtis Goff x 1
    • Leo Scrace x 1
    • Tom Rhodes x 1


With just three points from seven games going into this one, Villa knew they needed a victory to kick-start their season but it was never going to be easy against an Exmouth III side who have suffered just as much in the 2018/19 campaign so far.

On what was a cold and blustery day up on the hills of Exmouth, the home side adapted quickest to the conditions and a fast paced start from the first whistle immediately laid pressure on Villa.

It took Exmouth III just 90 seconds to find the back of the net, attacking in numbers down the right hand side of midfield before teeing up a cross that found Villa defender Dom Tree, who’s attempted clearance bundled off his weaker foot and into new goalkeeper Jake White’s net.

Things soon went from bad to worse as Exmouth III capitalised on their early momentum with a long range attempt by their centre forward that lofted over the Villa keeper and nestled into the bottom corner.

So, 2-0 down in five minutes and it looking like a familiar picture for Villa this season, something was needed to break up play and turn this into a level playing field. Step up Harry Coombe, who managed to rise highest from a Todd Scrace cross and inject some fight back into the tie.

It didn’t take long for Villa to build on their comeback as Steven Boyce added yet another goal to his tally this season, cooly finishing off a chance that left the keeper without a chance.

All square and plenty to play for, Villa started to come into the game and a quick-fire brace from James Howe, who had been toying with the Exmouth defence, soon helped manager Leigh Brooks breath a sigh of relief as he saw his side rewarded for their hard work in all areas of the pitch.

Curtis Goff then joined the goalscoring party, latching on to another long-range pass from Scrace before finding the top left corner of the net with a powerful strike that left the Exmouth III keeper scrambling the ball out of his goalmouth yet again.

Some neat passages of play soon after that helped Villa control this fixture, this time Scrace’s younger brother Leo becoming a star of the show on the left hand side of midfield, a performance that left us wondering whether he is truly ‘The Greatest Showman’.

Half-time came and some experienced words from Brooks and stand-in captain Todd Scrace ensured the boys didn’t get carried away with how things were going. At 5-2 up, many would imagine that was job done but not when it comes to the Villa, who were itching to get back on the field and repeat their performance.


Concentration was certainly an instruction picked up on from the defence who began to play a big part in the second half by controlling the tempo of the game from the back.

Full-backs Dom Tree and Lee Jenner made themselves available on a regular basis to get the ball moved wide immediately from goal-kicks and corners as Villa went chasing for a sixth.

A short break in play led to Liam Holmes hobbling off with a knee injury, a sad sight given his ability to dictate the transition from defence to attack. Nevertheless, he was replaced by Max Rawlings who soon adapted to playing centrally for a change, picking out the gaps in Exmouth’s defence whilst doing the hard work of tracking back.

Exmouth by no means played down to the fact they were trailing by three, and it took a while for Villa to see the game out of sight, Steven Boyce grabbing his second of the game whilst keeping his cool one-on-one with the keeper.

Brooks then made his second change of the game as Tom Rhodes switched with Goff in another attacking substitution. Rhodes’ energy was just what the doctor ordered, running the Exmouth defence ragged with his menacing display of pace in behind the defence, constantly giving the midfielders an option.

It was this change that really helped Howe make it a day to remember, adding two goals in quick succession to leave him on four for the game. Job done, he was soon whisked off for an early shower as Brooks made his third and final rotation, bringing on Freddie Burnett to sure up the defence and let Tree have a stint in the middle of the park.

With the game coming to a close, Exmouth’s spirit was soon dampened even further as Rhodes and Leo Scrace made it double digits for the Villa, matching their highest win ratio under Brooks’ reign. You could tell that goal meant the world to Scrace, who had simply done everything right up until that moment, so you can imagine the roar that came from the bench as he poked home number 10!

Ultimately, it was three points that mattered here but Villa showed they were more than just a side that can find the back of the net. Not once did Exmouth sit back and give up, this was a test of two sides who really wanted to prove a point, and I think in that sense both were winners.


I couldn’t be any prouder of my lads after fighting back from two goals down. Unfortunately, the manner in which we conceded concerns me and I’ll be looking to ensure that we continue to minimalise mistakes, especially at the back. The resilience and drive from all eleven lads on the pitch was fantastic, the football we played was the best I’ve ever seen from the Villa sides I’ve managed and to be able to stil build on this and improve excites me as a manager. The result on paper probably looks like we gave Exmouth a hammering but that couldn’t be further from the truth. That Exmouth side played with grit, dug their hells in, kept their heads up and continued to play football until the final whistle. It was by no means a walkover and I felt we earned this emphatic victory.


Next up for Villa is a return to Kensham Park as they look to welcome Central II and push on with a second successive victory that could see them return to the top half of the table.

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