Match report

Halesowen Town 0 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 16/08/2008   Southern League Premier Division
Alan Reidy

The Southern Football League’s fixture generating computer had not been kind on Tiverton Town, and dished up perhaps the trickiest possible opening fixture with a visit to The Grove to take on one of the pre-season favourites Halesowen Town. Two previous visits to the Real Ale hub of the West Midlands had seen the Yellows shed four goals on each occasion, and both times, particularly the match last February had been one-way affairs, so trepidatiously Tivvy set out in the knowledge that a point return would constitute relative success.



Town arrived with a re-jig, Steve Book taking over the goalkeeper’s gloves in the absence of Ray Johnston and his fragile ankle, while another old-timer Scott Hiley was amongst the substitutes on a bench vacated by suspended manager Martyn Rogers. And in the early stages the crowd of 423, lower than expected were treated to a slick Halesowen side, although Tiverton’s defence continued the solid form they had shown through the summer and restricted their hosts to a handful of halfchances. Both Justin Taylor and Mark Danks fired straight at Book early on, while the 39 year old custodian look assured when dealing with crosses, although he needed two bites at gathering a left sided corner, clambering over the shoulder of Tom Gardner before finally falling upon the ball.



Tivvy settled and Matt Groves forced Yeltz shotstopper Nick Bussey into a sprawling save after sixteen minutes, and soon afterwards Tom Knighton was also denied. Halesowen right back Dean Smith needed to be sharp to track back after Knighton and Mark Saunders combined on the right flank, allowing the Tivvy striker to make a beeline for goal, Smith’s sliding challenge inside the penalty area being timed to perfection, and on the stroke of half-time Danks was seemingly upended in the opposite area by Arran Pugh; the referee was not impressed, waved play on, and Nathan Rudge belted the ball away from danger.



The second half was just as even with only a few openings at either end of the pitch. Now attacking the curiously unique Hawne Lane End Tiverton’s Bobby Hopkinson became more influential as the afternoon wore on, and his interchange with Knighton eventually allowed the stocky midfielder to feed Adam Faux on the right, only for the eventual cross to be blocked. Midway through the second period, and with the fresh legs of Justin Rowe and Jermaine Palmer in the Halesowen forward line the home side should have taken the lead. Danks was afforded space on the left and floated in a fine cross that eluded Gardner and met Rowe at the far post. However, with time and space the striker could only direct his header a foot wide of the upright - had he hit the target it would have beaten Book easily. But it wasn’t to be, and Halesowen would rue the missed chance ten minutes later.



Before that though it was left to Nathan Rudge to force the hearts of the visiting supporters into their mouths; Aaron Cornwall, quiet to that point poked in a low cross from the right, Book was unable to gather, and Rudge took a touch which knocked the ball goalwards before eventually hooking clear from between the posts. Less than five minutes further into the game, fifteen minutes from time Tivvy served up the perfect tonic to what has been a fraught couple of weeks. Matt Villis launched the ball into the area, Michael Briscoe, Tom Bryant and Bussey all contrived to mess things up inside the six yard box, and Pugh gleefully poked the ball into the net from close range.



Danks fired well wide of the mark in the closing stages as Halesowen sought an equaliser, while Paul Wyatt, on as a late substitute in place of Groves lofted a shot over the top for Tivvy. A 1-0 win at The Grove was unexpected, but deserved on the whole, and if Halesowen are to be genuine contenders come next April they will have to significantly up their game. If truth be told they have taken a monumental backwards step in the last six months, while Tiverton are certainly a team moving in the right direction.



Halesowen Town: Nick Bussey; Dean Smith (Jermaine Palmer 58), Alex Cowley, Tom Bryant, Michael Briscoe, Jay Denny, Daryl Taylor, Dwayne Lee, Zema Abbey (Justin Rowe 58), Mark Danks, Aaron Cornwall

Booked: None

Sent Off: None



Tiverton Town: Steve Book; Adam Faux, Chris Vinnicombe, Matt Villis, Nathan Rudge, Tom Gardner, Arran Pugh (Scott Hiley 79), Bobby Hopkinson, Tom Knighton, Mark Saunders, Matt Groves (Paul Wyatt 81)

Goals: Pugh 76

Booked: Pugh 71

Sent Off: None



Attendance: 423

This report ©2008 Alan Reidy






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