Vintage Claret: Waldon Athletic put on a powerful display to win the George Belli Cup for the third season running. (c) Richard Holland.
Waldon Athletic came from behind against East Allington United to run out convincing 3-1 winners in last Friday night’s George Belli Cup final at Bovey Tracey FC. It is the third season on the bounce that the Clarets have lifted the Premier Division trophy and caps a fine season in which they will also finish runners-up in the league.
The game could hardly have started any worse for Waldon though. After Chris Harrity’s first minute shot had been blocked by the East Allington defence, the Pirates scored with their first attack, Waldon hesitating at the back as the ever-composed Si Hannaford slipped into the box, picked his spot and knocked the ball past Kitson Glanvill with only three minutes on the clock. The opening quarter of an hour was clearly a frustrating time for Waldon with a fair amount of pressure but East Allington defending stoutly and the final product lacking. Dan Harrity headed wide from a free-kick after 6 minutes, another shot flew over the bar 10 minutes in and Stan Goulding played a ball into the East Allington box a minute later but no one in a Claret shirt could take advantage. East Allington looked dangerous on the break and Glanvill did well to catch a deep cross from the right before, moments later, saving from Hannaford although the shot was at the right height for him. Prior to those attempts on goal, Andy Davis became the first player booked after a challenge just outside the Waldon box. With 17 minutes played, Chris Harrity wasted another promising move for Waldon while, at the other end, Goulding conceded a free-kick with a challenge on Andy King. The free-kick ended up with a shot into the trees but Waldon were soon defending a set-piece again, Tom Rowdon impeded and taking the free-kick himself, Dan Harrity heading away the danger. There was a slight murmur from the East Allington supporters when Hannaford went down in the box but no appeal from the players. Then, with 23 minutes played, Fred Massey hit a free-kick too long and the ball went behind for a goal-kick. With 25 minutes gone, Waldon finally began to settle down and play some decent attacking football. They were rewarded with their best opportunity of the game so far after Gary Doyle was felled on the edge of the box on 27 minutes. Expectations were high from the Waldon bench but not quite as high as Chris Harrity’s free-kick which cleared the bar by some distance! The Clarets sniffed blood though and a minute later, Brian Doughty hit a fierce low shot just wide of Richard Teague’s goal. East Allington responded well, flowing across the pitch in a fast-paced attacking move which was finally disrupted by Josh Briscomb with a well-timed tackle. There was a sign of Waldon’s growing confidence when Doughty turned Davis in midfield with some close control that the East Allington midfielder would have been proud of. Moments later, Teague tipped over a Chris Harrity effort. As the half moved into the final ten minutes, King went down under pressure from Dan Harrity right on the edge of the Waldon box but the free-kick decision was not given. Soon after, Chris Harrity was wide again with a shot past the left-hand post. Another ball into the Pirates’ box was too far ahead of Zak Gleeson who had been having a quiet game so far. Then, on 38 minutes, came one of two controversial moments in the game. As Dan Harrity defended an East Allington attack, Hannaford crashed to the ground nursing his face. The incident required the front man to leave the pitch for treatment but referee Alistair Muirden, who presumably didn’t see the clash, allowed play to continue. Hannaford almost fashioned his own advantage though. Moments after Doughty had hit a free-kick into the wall, the striker slipped back onto the pitch down the left. While the Waldon players debated whether he had been called back on (he had!) Hannaford tried to get behind the defence but was finally dispossessed. Three minutes from the break, Teague saved well from a low Gleeson free-kick before a flurry of chances in the last minute, Dan Harrity blocking a Hannaford shot at one end and Doyle firing wide at the other.
HALF TIME: East Allington United 1 – 0 Waldon Athletic
A five minute spell early in the second half finally turned the tide in Waldon’s favour. First, two minutes after the restart, Glanvill pulled off a fantastic double save from two fierce East Allington strikes from the left. Then, on 51 minutes, Dan Hurrell roared his frustration as Chris Harrity’s shot cannoned off him behind for a corner. East Allington defended that corner but were undone by a second, Waldon lashing in a superb ball from the right with Briscomb getting the decisive touch to take the ball past Teague and draw Waldon level. Three minutes later, Teague saved another Waldon effort as Goulding stretched the defence with an accurate deep ball forward. Waldon were also looking increasingly solid at the back as East Allington came at them again. In the 57th minute, Ash Harris had another good opportunity from a free-kick but the wall charged out to block his effort. Rowdon and Massey tried to fashion an opening but the ball went behind for a goal-kick. Then, on the hour mark, Waldon got their noses in front. It was another superbly weighted delivery from deep which fell right in front of Chris Harrity on the left. He accelerated away from the defence, calmly took the ball around Teague before pulling the ball back to Harris who simply couldn’t miss. You could almost feel the game slipping away from East Allington but Josh Pascoe kept Kitson on his toes with a drive from range which the Waldon ‘keeper tipped over. In the 67th minute, captain Tom Pennicott fired one over for Waldon as they sought to kill off the game. Moments later, Chris Harrity raced down the right and sent a cross in to the far post but Gleeson had been a touch slow off the mark and the ball evaded him. There was nothing slow about his reaction two minutes later though. A moment of confusion in the East Allington box saw Teague almost gather a loose ball only for Gleeson to nip in and steal it from under his nose and score the third and final goal of the night. As Waldon turned away in celebration, the East Allington goalkeeper and defenders were left asking each other questions.
In the 74th minute came the second controversial incident of the game. A robust challenge on Ashley Harris by one of the big East Allington centre-backs looked reckless from the sidelines and left Harris with his sock around his ankles. To Waldon’s dismay, the referee waved play on though and it was Harris who found himself in the book after a clumsy challenge less than a minute later. As the game entered the final ten minutes, Liam McKendrick blazed a shot over. Then, with five minutes left, East Allington tried to get themselves back into the game with a deep free-kick from the left wing. As the ball went out for a goal-kick the last of their hopes went with it. There was still time for a couple more names in Mr Muirden’s book including that of Jack Gatting who also managed to pick up an injury despite only coming on in the last minute.
The final whistle proclaimed Waldon as George Belli Cup champions again and they were soon celebrating with 84-year old loyal club member Ron Thomas. On reflection, East Allington can be proud of the season they have had with their Herald Cup win, strong league position and Premier Cup run but today was Waldon’s day and the Clarets fully deserved their achievement.
FULL TIME: East Allington United 1 – 3 Waldon Athletic
“In the first half, I didn’t think we played badly,” said manager Rab Milligan after the match. “They played really well but in the second half we went up the gears and were defensively solid to give us a platform to go forward. In the second half we dominated the match and I think 3-1 could have been more.
“We like this cup. It’s been good to us and we’re happy to win it as many times as possible.
“Last year was hard when we won the (Herald Cup and Belli Cup) double. We tried to win the league this year. We fell a little bit short but we’ve finished second to a strong Buckland side. I don’t think we’ve been far behind them which is good given the resources they have.
“Every season we just need to do one thing and that’s to keep on improving. We’re a solid, strong group of lads so we’ll just build on that.”
East Allington United (Richard Teague, Josh Pascoe, Jon Davis, Jamie Batchelor, Dan Hurrell, Andy King, Fred Massey, Tom Rowdon, Simon Hannaford, Ben Robey, Andy Davis, Dan Bowles, Seth Gloyn, Lee Morgan, James Ivatts, Justin Denning, Josef Sita, Matthew Price)
Waldon Athletic (Kitson Glanvill, Gary Doyle, Liam McKendrick, Thomas Pennicott, Joshua Briscomb, Ashley Harris, Stanley Goulding, Brian Doughty, Christopher Harrity, Thomas Holland, Thomas Ogilvie, Kyle Doughty, Jack Gatting, Daniel Harrity, Stephen Doyle, Zachariah Gleeson, Adam Taylor)