Match Preview: Bet Victor Division One South
Willand Rovers v Basingstoke Town
When: Saturday 16th November 2019 Kick-off 2pm
Where: Silver Street, Willand, Devon. EX15 2RG
Willand Rovers (Nickname Rovers or Devon All-Whites), Average 2019-20 Home Attendance 139
We travel back into Devon once more to the tiny village of Willand (population of just under 6,000), and visit a team we have never played before.
Well if you thought our start to the season was bad, Willand can claim theirs was even worse, as they lost the first five games of the season. Sitting rock bottom in the league, they then went on a mini-run, with a good draw at Frome Town and then two home wins against teams at the bottom, a 1-0 win against Barnstaple Town, and 2-0 win against Sholing.
However, after that, they have suffered losses at promotion chasers Larkhall Athletic 3-1 and Evesham Utd 1-0. However, due to cup exits and postponements, they have not played in the league since October 20th.
This means Rovers currently sit in 18th place with an overall record of PLD 10 WON 2 DRAWN 1 LOST 7 GF 8 GA 14 PTS 7. What is noticeable is that they score few goals, but also have a fairly solid defence as well, letting in 3 goals only twice so far this season.
Their goals (just 8) have come via 7 players with just 33-year old forward Craig Veale having just two goals.
They are a vastly older team than us and will no doubt use that experience against a much younger opponent.
As for your Basingstoke Town side, with back-to-back losses (1 league, 1 FA Trophy), we sat idle last weekend, and go into this match-up knowing we must get back to winning ways.
With recent loaned players returning to their original clubs, we are close to being back to our actual squad of players, some of which are on dual registration with other teams.
Injury-wise defender Reuben Collins will still be missing and so could midfielder D’Andre Brown.
Our recent league form prior to the loss at Paulton Rovers has been good, and we were unbeaten in four games.
Despite this recent upsurge we still sit in a precarious 16th place with a record of PLD 11 Won 2 Drawn 3 Lost 6 GF 14 GA 18 with 9pts.
Having never seen Willand play, and with us playing on the road, it will be interesting to see what formation we start with. With Robinson gone (currently?), we no doubt will start with Ben Wright upfront. Wrights confidence will have been boosted by the 3 stunning finishes in that mid-week friendly against Farnborough. With Reece Rusher making also playing a significant part in that game, he is clearly in contention to get a starting role Saturday.
With us knowing that we play a much older team, we can exploit the pace in our team and with the return of Harrison Cliff, we have various options in that regard, but we need to be strong in midfield first, and then use our speed down the wings.
It will be interesting how we will set-up defensively, going with either a conventional back four, or a more attacking back three. Assuming both Aaron Kuhl and Ryan Sucking return injury-free from other mid-week games, and with no injuries from our friendly, it could be a tough decision to make, especially if rumours are true that a new defender may be signed later this week.
Chances could be at a premium this week and we will need to focus 100% for the whole 90 minutes.
Both teams will be looking at this fixture as a chance for 3 points and neither team can afford to lose, even though we are in mid-November. The matches against lower teams are hugely important and currently ours isn’t that great. Therefore Saturday is a chance to improve on that.
With an expected 2pm kick-off due to floodlight issues, those travelling down to Devon, will need to be leaving a lot earlier to get to the game.
Match Preview by Martin French..