A MAN of the match performance from goalkeeper Dan Law booked Willand Rovers a Devon St Luke’s Cup quarter-final with Exeter City.
Law was outstanding against Barnstaple Town tonight, as Rovers edged the tie 3-2 on penalties.
The clash had finished goalless after 90 minutes – with Law producing a string of fine saves, notably from former Willand man James Blake – before the shoot-out.
Shaun Copp missed the fifth and final spot-kick, blazing high and right, as Barnstaple bowed out.
It was a confident start from the hosts who seemed buoyed by their weekend win over Larkhall Athletic – a first win in five – stroking the ball round comfortably in the Willand half.
Copp was the beneficiary of the first neat interplay as Scott Huxtable drilled the ball 50 yards, Scott Sharp headed back to the edge of the box and the midfielder volleyed just wide.
Blake, starting against the side he left in the summer, hit a crisp drive just over the near post and Copp drew a flying save from Law with his 25-yard effort.
The last time these two met at Mill Road in competitive action, Liam Gregory scored both goals direct from corners in a 2-0 win. He was almost at it again from Copp’s shot as the resulting delivery bounced in the box, took a nick and hit the bar.
Blake seemed desperate to get on the scoresheet against his former team and was having a personal duel with Law – which the Willand keeper was winning.
He got down well to beat out the striker’s effort after 24 minutes and, 60 seconds later, blocked a shot after Blake was slipped in by Jack Jenkins.
Willand were showing promise going forward – signs of a team who had won eight of their 10 Western League games this season – but they lacked any real danger in the final third.
It was a similarly quick start to the second half by Barnstaple as Gregory’s deflected effort was well held, Copp’s chest and volley flew over and a low Jenkins strike went just past the far post.
There was controversy five minutes after the break when Sharp challenged for a 50-50 with Adam Hill in the Willand box. Sharp seemed to win the ball and Hill’s mistimed challenge cleaned out the striker but referee Lee Roberts was unmoved.
Sharp lasted just four more minutes before hobbling off and it was his replacement, Ryan Turner, who went closest to breaking the deadlock. He picked the ball up 25 yards out, cut in from the right and smashed a shot off the angle of post and bar.
Law was there again to deny Blake with two minutes to go as Jed Harper-Penman crossed, Blake took an excellent touch away from goal but once again the outcome was the same.
Barnstaple Town (3-5-2): Steve Oliver; Craig Allan, James Mayne, Scott Huxtable; Kyle Paine (Jed Harper-Penman 62), Niall Heeney, Jack Jenkins (Dave Pearse 74), Shaun Copp, Liam Gregory; James Blake, Scott Sharp (Ryan Turner 55). Subs not used: Jamie Pow.
Willand Rovers (4-4-2): Dan Law; Joe Curtis, Tom Short, Adam Hill, Ryan Guppy; David Steele, Jamie Harkness, Ian Patchett, Luke Alden; Brett Worbey, Jordan Ford. Subs not used: Aidan Hoyle, Russell Jee.
Referee: Lee Roberts.