Match report

Tiverton Town 5 - 2 North Leigh

   Saturday 18/10/2008   FA Trophy
Alan Reidy

FA Trophy First Qualifying Round

The fall-out from the FA Trophy game against North Leigh has statisticians across the globe scratching heads and disturbing the old grey matter in an attempt to wrap up some facts. When was the last time a Tiverton player scored a hat-trick? When was the last time a Tiverton Town side scored eight goals across two successive major competition matches? And when was the last time I was so sure about the answers only to find out I was wrong? My hunch – no, my belief – was that the most recent hat-trick was scored by Mike Booth in an FA Cup match away to Highworth Town three years ago. More fool I. As adamant as I was in the post-match analysis I still had to cross-check when I staggered home drowned in celebratory tipple. Booth’s claim to the match ball came on 24th September 2005, and a week later Richard Pears returned to Ladysmead in a league encounter against Northwood and smashed three himself. So I was wrong. A little later that season, 10th December to be precise, Hitchin Town were beaten 6-2 thanks to a match-winning hat-trick from Jamie Mudge, making the current Dorchester Town forward the last Tivvy player to score three in a match. With regards to the second question we must travel forward a further month to January 2006 when a crazy 5-4 defeat at Gloucester City was followed up by a 4-0 win at Ladysmead, rather conveniently against the team that recently dispatched Truro City from the FA Trophy – Chesham United. And when was I so wrong… always!

North Leigh came to Devon an unknown quantity, residing just below the playoffs in the Division below having won the Hellenic League the season before. Their only previous match in Devon saw them lose heavily to an Elmore side that were breaking the bank in an effort to wrest the Western League championship to the East of town, and fortunes would prove to remain poor thirteen years later. But it started nicely for the team from the outskirts of Witney when Paul Cooper curled a free kick over the wall and past a static Steve Book to open the scoring fifteen minutes into the game. By that stage Tiverton could have been comfortably ahead, but James Fraser held onto the ball when a through-ball to Tom Knighton was the clear choice, and Paul Jarvis’ teasing cross beat Richard Barrett in the North Leigh goal and slid just past the far post. Barrett saved well with his feet to deny Bobby Hopkinson, but sixty seconds later a flowing Town move culminated in the equaliser. Glenn Gould spread the ball to Alex Faux on the left flank, Faux crossed early towards the near post and Phil Walsh stooped to glance his header across the goalkeeper and into the far corner.

Tiverton had finally woken up after a sloppy start to the game, and ten minutes before the break they had their noses in front. Knighton’s tenacity won a corner kick on the right which Jarvis curled deep into the area. With Leigh defenders waiting for each other to take an initiative Walsh rose above everyone in a crowded area and powerfully nodded his second of the game. But parity was restored with the next passage of play as the Oxon side countered down the right as they attacked the goal at the Swimming Pool end of the ground. Ben Reardon galloped from his full-back position and drilled a low cross into the area which eluded everyone until it reached the lanky Simon Futcher at the far post, and the winger only needed to tap the ball over the line from a few yards out.

The game was alive and the goals continued to flow; just three minutes after Tivvy had taken the lead they went ahead again, Walsh mirroring Futcher’s strike by prodding home a loose ball after Fraser’s cross-shot had been clumsily parried by Barrett. And to close a thrilling opening period Knighton ballooned a shot well over the top with Walsh screaming out for the ball, the big man having taken up perfect position to add to his tally for the afternoon.

Matt Villis headed home Tiverton’s fourth goal just before the hour mark, a goal that more or less knocked the stuffing out of North Leigh, and from then on the Yellows were dominant in every respect. Possession was kept at will, passes were completed, tackles won, and when it was time chances were created. Another clean and swift move led to Town’s fifth; Fraser broke out of his own half tight to the left touchline and fed the ball into the centre of the field where Walsh was waiting. With the opposition defence tiring and out of position Walsh poked the ball across his body and perfectly into the path of Knighton to fire the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

Futcher came close to grabbing a consolation when his cross hit the top of the crossbar, but it was Tivvy that had the better chances in the closing stages, with Barrett saving superbly from both Jarvis and Knighton as the home side cruised into the next round of the FA Trophy and a trip to Wealdstone. One player that won’t be there is Chris Vinnicombe, the leftie applauded off the pitch after his final outing in Tivvy colours.

Tiverton Town: Steve Book; Paul Jarvis (Raiff Gwinnett 86), Alex Faux (Chris Vinnicombe 74), Matt Villis, Mike Booth, Tom Gardner, James Fraser, Bobby Hopkinson, Phil Walsh, Glenn Gould (Arran Pugh 74), Tom Knighton
Goals: Walsh 23, 34, 38, Villis 56, Knighton 71
Booked: Fraser 20, Knighton 30
Sent off: None

North Leigh: Richard Barrett; Ben Reardon (Mark Dennis 74), Andrew Helby, Paul Cooper, Stuart Huxley, Karl Dodds, Joe Burnell, Ben Hutter (Mark Simms 64), Andy McCabe, Liam Hope (Mark Thelfall 74), Simon Futcher
Goals: Cooper 15, Futcher 36
Booked: Hutter 55
Sent off: None

Attendance: 344

This report ©2008 Alan Reidy






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