VILLA CONTINUE TO CLIMB THE LEAGUE TABLE AFTER VICTORY IN KENSHAM PARK WASH OUT
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.
MAN OF THE MATCH
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.