Bill Treeby Cup: Double On as Watcombe Comeback Breaks Barton Hearts
Picture (c) MiraclePR.com
In a damp evening at Dartmouth’s Longcross ground, Barton Athletic and Watcombe Wanderers Thirds lit up the night with a passionate and high tempo performance that produced seven goals and, ultimately, a second trophy of the season for Watcombe – the Bill Treeby Cup (sponsored by South West Accountants).
There was no chance of these Torquay neighbours feeling each other out in the opening stages, Barton making a blistering start and taking the lead after just three minutes, the rebound from a free-kick falling nicely for top scorer Anthony Jones who buried the ball in the back of the net. Two minutes later and Watcombe ‘keeper James Hawkings was forced to race out to meet the onrushing John Fleet and, moments later, Hawkings was once more called into action to tip a long-range effort over the bar.
After this early set-back, Barton received a scare when Sam Pyne seemed to carve through the back four like a knife through butter before rushing his shot. Soon after, Austin Booth was felled and Luke Rhodes pounced on the resulting free-kick to level the scores with only ten minutes played. The momentum had now switched to Watcombe, and it was Lawrence Purdie in Barton’s goal who next had to tip over a shot, from Owen Stockton’s free-kick. Still Watcombe pushed and Booth put through Pyne on the right. The latter looked marginally offside but Purdie came out to ensure the danger was snuffed out anyway. As the 15 minute mark approached, Rhodes, Pyne and, increasingly, Connor Finch were causing concern at the back but Fleet eased the pressure with a peach of a ball out to Jody Rooney on the left. But Joseph Mascilo stood up well as Barton came forward and the move ended in a Greens free-kick by their own goal-line. Frankie Rooney and Neil Thomas then combined well to set up another chance for Barton but the shot was wide. Meanwhile, at the other end, Kris Darke did well to intercept Booth’s attempted through-ball to Pyne while Purdie parried another long-range Stockton effort. Fleet and Thomas failed to make the most of two free-kicks in good positions, the former striking his low but into the wall, while the latter bent his effort away from Hawkings’ left-hand upright. Then, on 28 minutes, Fleet almost put Athletic ahead again, hitting the frame of Hawking’s goal following a corner. A minute later, Finch broke free on the left and forced Purdie into another save, hitting the deck shortly afterwards and requiring the attention of physio Mark Woodmore. On 34 minutes, Mascilo pulled up awkwardly leaving Thomas running free. Thomas’s shot was wide but the whistle had been blown anyway, presumably for offside since no-one was in Mascilo’s vicinity. In the final ten minutes of the half, Watcombe increased the pressure with Barton giving away some cheap free-kicks. However, Athletic managed to break away in numbers on numerous occasions but were either foiled by the whistle or their own failure to deliver the final ball. Purdie was the busier ‘keeper in the closing stages, but Watcombe were restricted to half-chances.
Just as they did in the first half, Barton went straight on the offensive after the break, and after Jones had already forced Hawkings into action, they won themselves another free-kick in a dangerous position. This time they made it count, Lee Sizer hitting a beautiful free-kick into the back of the net on 47 minutes. One minute later it was all square again, Connor Finch converting a free-kick for his first of the night. Watcombe then introduced Luke Barton into the fray who, as always, made an immediate impact, cautioned within seconds for a late tackle. Booth followed him into the book two minutes later as the wet conditions and a lack of composure combined to lead to some tasty challenges.
Meanwhile, Barton were beginning to get the upper hand, Darke’s fine through-ball sending Thomas away only for the latter to fire wide. Then, on 63 minutes, Watcombe took the lead for the first time. Barton’s Liam Young had just fired a low ball into the box with Watcombe needing to clear off their line as Athletic tried to make the chance count. As the Barton crowd roared, Sam Pyne picked up the ball and scurried away down the wing, beating Purdie with a cool finish before tearing his shirt off and greeting the Watcombe fans, receiving the inevitable booking moments later.
“Two seconds before that goal we’ve had one cleared off the line – It’s a bit heart-breaking when it’s that quick a turnaround.” – Czesiek Solecki (Barton Athletic)
Barton were stunned and Watcombe took full advantage, Connor Finch hitting his second and Watcombe’s fourth just four minutes later. Things soon got even worse; as the Barton players, supported by an agitated crowd, protested over a booking, presumably for a high boot which caught Luke Rhodes in the face, Luke Barton took the opportunity to power home a shot from the left-hand side of the box to end the contest. Shortly after, Fleet found his name added to the book after his challenge on Rhodes. There were more chances for both sides in the final twenty minutes, with Young desperately trying to find a way back for Barton. But the damage had been done and, in fact, Stockton could have made it six but hit the woodwork with seven minutes remaining after sub Harvey Hickman had been brought down.
To their credit, Barton stayed on the pitch throughout the trophy presentations and applauded the victors in a show of fine sportsmanship.
“I was really proud of them. They’re a very young team but I told you that if they do what they need to do and battle for 90 minutes they will win.” – Taimak Wilson (Watcombe Wanderers)
“The third goal was key,” said Barton player-manager Czesiek Solecki. ”Two seconds before that goal we’ve had one cleared off the line – I don’t know how he could keep it out – and they go right down the other end and suddenly they are 3-2 up. It’s a bit heart-breaking when it’s that quick a turnaround.
“I thought they all played fantastic,” he said of his team. “They got themselves up for the game and started at a really high tempo which is what we worked on.
“Alright, you are weakest just after you score and maybe we should have switched on a little bit more there, but we got ourselves back up and it’s just a shame that that third goal swung it.
“We’ve got a fantastic squad and we’re just going to concentrate on pushing up the leagues and see if we can’t get some trophies.”
As for Watcombe’s Taimak Wilson, he was understandably delighted at winning a trophy in his first season of management.
“It’s a nice feeling, for me and (assistant manager) Nathan Begley, not just myself,” he said. “I was really proud of them. They’re a very young team but I told you that if they do what they need to do and battle for 90 minutes they will win the game in the end.
“All credit to Barton; they’ve got a lot of older players in there who worked their socks off for 90 minutes but it’s just Watcombe came out the better team on the day.
“I’m just buzzing; let’s get the double up now. If we can go the season unbeaten that will be a big achievement but there’s four games left so who knows?”