The Brunel Cup
Devon 2 – 5 Cornwall
Played at Devon County FA Headquarters, Coach Road, Newton Abbot, 25.02.2022
This first match of the inaugural Brunel Cup series of matches between the two counties proved an entertaining spectacle with plenty of goals to cheer for the 257 supporters who braved a cold evening at Coach Road to support the resurrection of representative football.
Devon kicked off but the pacy Cornwall strikers soon had the upper hand with Charlotte Whitmore (St Austell) drawing a save from Charlotte Nicholson (MAP) in the Devon goal, immediately followed by a powerful strike from Chloe Williams (Liskeard) whose powerful drive flew past the far post with Nicholson well beaten. With Jess Saunders getting the defence organised Devon were able to nullify the pace of the Cornwall attacks, primarily by using the off side trap, and gradually take control of the midfield.
In the 10th minute Devon went ahead through Sam Drewery (MAP) who headed home a corner from the right taken by Natalie Ebdon-Matthews (Feniton) but, in the 13th minute, Cornwall were level. A quick throw-in on the right wing resulted in a looping shot from Williams that Nicholson was unable to keep out.
Stung by this Devon piled on the pressure and Drewery was unlucky not to convert two chances that came her way. The first, on 20 minutes, a drive from 15 yards was well saved by Cornwall keeper, Sara Rowe (Liskeard). The second, in the 41st minute, was arguably a better chance as she ran through on goal but placed her finish just wide. Between those two opportunities Lucy Solloway (St Austell) was put through for Cornwall but fired just wide from the edge of the box.
During this period Devon were well on top and went ahead again in the 43rd minute, Kirsty Brown (Budleigh Salterton) converting a cross from Yvie Miller (Exeter City), driving her shot back across Rowe into the far corner of the net. As the half drew to a close Cornwall, most fortuitously, found themselves back on terms with a own goal, a shot from Beth Overton (St Austell) being deflected onto the post and the rebound hitting the diving Nicholson on the back of the neck before trickling over the line. Half-time came almost immediately with the score tied at 2 goals each.
The second half began with Cornwall in the ascendency, putting pressure on the Devon back line. Eight minutes into the half that pressure resulted in their first corner, an inswinger from the left that cleared the defence and fell nicely for Solloway to head home. Two minutes later Hannah Drummond (Liverton) almost got Devon level but her chipped shot was well save at the near post by Masie Frickleton (St Austell), substituting for Rowe. A minute later Whitmore broke through the Cornwall defence but fired just wide.
Devon were trying hard to get back into the game but left the back door open and, in the 58th minute, Saunders was forced to race back and concede a corner. Another inswinger into the six yard box this time driven home by Beth Prouse (Helston). 4 – 2 to Cornwall. The Devon defence who had largely had control of the Cornwall attacking force in the first half were clearly struggling in the second as Cornwall attacks were coming from deeper, prompted by Whitmore.
In the 65th minute a cross-field pass found Overton whose shot was well saved by Nicholson at the near post. Cornwall were now well on top, restricting Devon to scraps such as a 30 yard free kick from Ebdon-Matthews which was well dealt with by Frickerton. In the 74th minute only a fine save from Nicholson, denying Solloway twice, prevented Cornwall going further ahead. Devon were clearly struggling and were now being put under constant pressure.
In the 85th minute Whitmore had a good chance to make it 5 only to shoot wide when well plcaed. In the 88th minute she got the reward she deserved, breaking clear of the Devon defence to slot home and complete the scoring for Cornwall. A minute later Brown had a good effort for Devon well saved and so Cornwall take the first point with another five available.
Further ties in the series will be under 16 and under 18 girls, under 16 and under 18 boys culminating in a match between the Senior men at St Blazey on 22nd March.
Star Player – Charlotte Whitmore (Cornwall)
A big well done to Nat Matthews who received a cap from the Representative Teams Chairman, Dudley Frood, after making her 10th appearance for Devon.