Willand 3-3 Millbrook

Aug 23, 2021

Even this early in the season, a pattern is emerging with Millbrook that you write them off at your peril.

Yesterday at Silver Street they trailed three times, but three times they hit back in a thrilling FA Cup tie and Tom Payne’s 90th minute leveller earned them a replay at Jenkins Park on Tuesday night.

All of this after Brook had been mauled by rampant Southern League division one south Willand in the first half.

If they had been 4-0 down at half time, nobody could have argued and when Millbrook’s players trudged off to the dressing rooms, they knew they were very fortunate to be only Glenn Gould’s 13th minute strike adrift.

Manager Mackenzie Brown and assistant Mike Heron used every second of the 15-minute break to revive them as Willand’s eager players waited out on the pitch like a pride of lions eager to finish off their prey.

But within two minutes of the restart, Rikki Shepherd’s pace took him clear of a defender and his chip over Willand keeper George Burton seemed to take an age before rolling into an unguarded net ‑ and it was game on.

Millbrook then enjoyed a 20-minute period when they held the upper hand and a Payne curler from 25 yards was goal-bound until it took a deflection off a defender’s leg.

Somewhat against the run of play, Jack Rice headed Willand back in front after 66 minutes but it took only two minutes for the visitors to be on terms again with a glancing header by Shepherd from a left wing cross.

It was now an end to end battle but Willand went in front 11 minutes from time through Will Richards, who was left with a free header at the far post from a free kick on the right.

Significantly, no Millbrook heads dropped. They surged forward in search of a third equaliser and thought they had found it three minutes from time when Josh Toulson got on the end of a Payne free kick six yards out.

His effort was brilliantly blocked by the keeper’s legs but the ball broke to Ben Holter, who had to score. Agonisingly, his shot crashed into the side netting.

That miss would have deflated a lot of teams but Millbrook continued to press and as the 90 minute mark was reached, they won a corner on the right.

Payne produced an in swinger to the near post which caused indecision on the line between two Willand defenders, and the ball squirmed between them into the net.

Cue massive celebrations, a thunderstorm and torrential rain to bring a fitting end to a superb FA Cup encounter.

Willand will be kicking themselves that they didn’t finish off their opponents in that one-sided first half.

They should have been ahead in the opening minute as Millbrook contrived to turn a simple clearance into a catastrophic mess, but Willand striker Louis Jagger-Cane somehow dragged his shot wide of an open goal.

Rovers had two more half chances before Gould opened the scoring, hammering the ball in from 15 yards after Jagger-Cane’s header had crashed against the bar.

Millbrook keeper Sam Borthwick then had to make a couple of spectacular saves as Willand continued to tear open the visitors’ jelly-like defence.

The excellent Alfie Moulden, who caused havoc along the right flank, provided a cross which only needed touching in but Richards arrived just too late.

And a minute before the break Jagger-Cane was played through in a one-on-one with Sam Borthwick but fired inches wide. He will have much better days in front of goal.

P