Ipplepen Athletc 2, Wellington Reserves 1

The Rserves finally got back to a little bit of football normality as they travelled to South Devon for the first of their pre-season friendlies. South Devon Premier Division side Ipplepen Athletic were their hosts for their long-awaited return to football.

Arriving with a small and relatively young squad of 13 players, Wellington knew they would be strongly tested by an Ipplepen side playing their fourth friendly. It would be this additional match fitness that would ultimately be the match decider.

The first half was an end to end fast paced affair. Both sides creating opportunities and testing the opposition keepers.

After a wobbly start, Rob Hall pulled off a good near post save, pushing a low right-footed near post shot up and on to the crossbar. Wellington though were marginally ahead in the contest overall.

New midfielder Connor Foster (Hemyock) offered great cover in midfield allowing Clay Westcott and Brad Holmans to get forward at regular intervals.

Wellington deservedly took the lead on 30 minutes. A cross was poorly cleared, falling to Liam Thorne on the edge of the box. He let the ball bounce before unleashing an unstoppable left footed drive high into the top corner.

Shortly after this Wellington were forced into their first change. The very impressive Jordon Mace, a key player for the reserves, had to be carried from the pitch after overstretching in committing to a tackle. The seriousness of the knee injury is yet to be confirmed, but it didn’t look good for highly thought of player. Logan Sellick (18) replaced Mace for his Reserve team debut at right back – doing well overall. The first half ended with Wellington good value for their lead.

At the restart, Wellington continued as they ended the first. Good pressure and pace always causing the Ipplepen back four issues. Josh Baker’s work rate at centre forward was excellent and won numerous freekicks throughout the game. Rohan Poulsom took charge at free kicks and his delivery was very good and consistent, always putting pressure on the opposition.

Will Powell joined the game on 60mins for his reserves debut, Foster leaving early for work meant a quick reshuffle. Sellick moving to right forward, Powell coming in at right back.

Ipplepen got a deserved equaliser on 70 minutes. A floated free kick from the right was met unchallenged on the penalty spot and headed down into the corner.

The home side from this point started to have more and more influence on the game. But Wellington were always a threat and should have retaken the lead five minutes later. Both Poulsom and Baker both had chances after a cross from Sellick, Baker firing over the bar after Poulsoms mis-hit shot was cleared to him.

Ipplepen’s fitness and ability to introduce fresh legs was the deciding factor of the game, although the manner of the winning goal was down to poor and simple communication. A harmless cross was floated in from the left on 83 minutes. Tom Davies should have had a shout to let the ball travel harmlessly through to Hall in goal, but it never came. Davies headed clear unsure of who was around him. This was collected, played into their striker who turned a fired past Hall for the win.

All in all, it was a very good performance for the Reserves. They should start to get stronger with more friendlies coming. Competition for places is strong with six players unavailable for this trip. Focus and the ability to do as asked for the team is going to be the deciding factor moving forward. The overall commitment from the players has been excellent so far.

The Reserves travel to Bishops Lydeard Reserves on Friday for another tough test.