Willand Rovers 2 – Howe 4, Edwards 60
Yate Town 2 – McCootie 16, 30
Yate Town gained a hard-fought point in a game that was played in worsening weather conditions and maintained their unbeaten record in 2024 but their winning sequence of 6 games came to an end.
Yate manager Darren Mullings kept the same starting eleven from Saturday, and Yate started sluggishly and a mistake in the 4th minute when Ollie Jenkins lost possession led to Willand taking an early lead through Owen Howe.
There followed a period of play when Willand had a couple of good chances to extend their lead which were not taken and then Yate Town started to respond to the challenge of finding themselves behind for the first time this year. Following a driving run into the penalty area by full-back James Taylor in the 16th minute, he supplied the cross cum shot for Nick McCootie to score his eighth goal of the season.
Dylan Lewis then had a shot well saved by home goalkeeper George Burton which went for a corner. Then with the rain falling heavily Jenkins again found himself in a good position but his cross was too strong, and the attack broke down as Yate Town dominated. English-Brown was denied by Burton when one on one with the goalkeeper.
Then off a Yate mistake, Willand had another good chance, but Toby Raison blocked the shot and managed to clear the danger before Yate Town took the lead in the 30th minute. A cross was fielded by Aaron Sainsbury who quickly released the ball forward, this was headed down to Joe Guest who played the ball square to Finley Bell who slid in Dylan Lewis along the left and his first time cross found Nick McCootie to side foot home his second goal of the game.
In an eventful final few minutes of the first half, Willand hit the crossbar from a corner and Jenkins should have scored a third for Yate. Jenkins found himself clear 10 yards from goal, and with only a defender on the line, who he manged to hit, and the shot was cleared.
With the rain pouring down Willand started the second half on the front foot and following a mistake by Ewan McMillan Yate goalkeeper Aron Sainsbury saved well to keep the Bluebells lead intact. Sainsbury made another good save from a long range shot which went for a corner and on 60 minutes the home side drew level when from another Willand corner, a near post flick on was headed home at the far post by Ross Edwards.
McCootie then had an immediate chance to restore Yate’s lead but dragged his shot wide, this being the last opportunity Yate created as Willand continued to dominate the play and looked the more likely side to score. Sainsbury made another good save from Willand shot and the home side had two further long-range efforts narrowly miss.
The game became a little scrappy towards the end with more misplaced passes as the conditions deteriorated. Willand’s Joshia Ford was then sent off in stoppage time for a second bookable offence.
Yate deserved their point for their first half display, but Willand proved worthy opponents on the night. Their direct style and prowess at free kicks and corners was a constant threat to Yate who will know what to expect come the return fixture in April. The 2-2 final score line was a fair reflection of the game and a good watch for the neutrals in the crowd.
Yate Town: Sainsbury, Taylor, Byrne, McMillan, Raison, Guest, Bell, Jenkins (Ball 81), English-Brown (L. Hall 57), McCootie, Lewis
Unused subs: Dempsey, Murgatroyd, Mullings
Bookings: Taylor (51) Guest (89)
Willand Rovers: Burton, Searle, Guppy, Ford, Edwards, Moyse, Moulden, Hewitt, Howe, Baker (Wright 50), Camilo (Duff-Dick)
Unused subs: Laird, Byrne
Referee: Dan Fizzell