MATCH REPORT: Willand Rovers 1-2 Bristol Manor Farm

Daniel Dodimead and Jayden Nielsen’s heroic second-half goals secured a memorable comeback victory at Willand Rovers on Easter Monday, writes William Ledbury.

After the elation from Saturday’s convincing home win over Evesham United at The NL Services Stadium, the match couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start from a Manor Farm perspective as the Devon All-Whites took an early lead from the penalty spot. Despite the vocal appeals from The Farm’s playing and management team, the man in the middle pointed to the spot and former Farmer Owen Howe made no mistake from 12 yards. Oh how many times have we written that in years past…

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Daniel Dodimead scores his second goal of the Easter Weekend at Willand Rovers.

Manor Farm didn’t let that early goal deter them in difficult conditions at a wet and windy Silver Street, and thought they levelled through Aron Robbins inside 10 minutes. A flicked header across goal was met by the marauding fullback, but he was a yard or so offside and the flag was duly raised. Farm’s match winning hero Nielsen did have a number of chances prior, and he saw a long range effort parried by George Burton, which Dodimead came very close to converting on the rebound but blasted over. More chances came for Farm, and Ben Bament struck over from seven yards out when he cut onto his right foot.

The half-time whistle blew and some friendly banter from the home supporters followed, as they gesticulated the scoreline to Manager Lee Lashenko and his players on their speedy route to the changing rooms. In light of The Farm’s relentless attack onslaught, maybe that wasn’t the best decision?

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Some of the Farmy Army celebrating Nielsen’s winner at Silver Street.

The Farm continued to press Willand deeper inside their own half, and parity was finally restored early on as Dodimead scored his second goal of the Easter weekend. Nielsen’s pinpoint delivery met the head of Bament who expertly guided the ball into Dodimead to head home the leveller. Home keeper Burton was having a fantastic afternoon and was clearly Rovers’ best player by keeping them in the match. Dodimead was played clean on goal, and after switching onto his left foot, Burton threw his body on the line to smother what looked like Farm’s best and final chance of the match…

With just seconds left of normal time, Robbins whipped a dangerous ball into the Devon All-Whites box which former farmer Josh Ford did well to head behind for a farm corner. Making his second substitute appearance over the Bank Holiday, Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist’s deep cross was headed only as far as Nielsen who chested the ball and smashed a volley from 25 yards out into the top left corner. Wild celebrations would follow across Silver Street as The Farm knew that their victory would firmly keep them inside the top four of the division.

As Ralph Marston once said, “Excellence isn’t a skill, it’s an attitude”, and that could not be a more fitting description of every player, staff, and supporter who attended the crucial match. After Hamworthy’s expulsion from the league, Manor Farm will take an enforced break before playing play-off hopefuls Tavistock on Wednesday 10 April. See you all there, and up the Farm!