The unofficial archives of Tiverton Town Football Club

Tiverton Town 3 - 4 Truro City

Tuesday 28/10/2008   Southern League Cup
Tivvy Archive

The Southern League Cup, for the present renamed to the corporate handle of its sponsor, was once a glorious competition and the roll of honour reads like a Who’s Who of non-league football. Headington United, Bath City, Wimbledon, Cambridge City, Yeovil Town and many more famous team have their name etched onto the mammoth trophy, but it is fair to say that the modern era has seen a shift of importance towards league success and good money-making runs in the two national FA knock-out competitions. The diminished value of the Southern League Cup is in keeping with the generally diminished value of the Southern League in the grand scheme of football in England – until the formation of the Football Alliance, now the Blue Square Premier, in 1978 the Southern League was the first level below the Football League. Today there are 66 teams between the two, the League Cup has become something of a farce, and the focus of attention of eligible teams is elsewhere.

Two seasons ago Tiverton Town won the Southern League Cup with a 3-2 aggregate win over Hemel Hempstead Town, and even during that run which saw the Yellows overcome local rivals such as Yate Town, Mangotsfield United and Bath City there was a certain apathy towards the competition shown by the supporters, and, if truth be told, by the competing clubs. Bath visited Ladysmead with a second string and were beaten; by the semi-final stage Banbury United sent down to Devon a squad of just twelve, one of whom was a 45 year old goalkeeper that only held a coaching role at Spencer Stadium. The two legs of the final against Hemel drew a combined crowd of just 601, and it was only towards the end of that match that anyone really made much of a fuss about the potential of lifting this once great prize.

With all of the above considered it was no surprise that the opening game of the Southern League Cup, which had predictably paired Truro and Tiverton together would be competed by two sides with bigger fish to fry. City used the game to give a run out to a number of youth team players and trialists; Tivvy utilised their full squad with fringe players and players returning from injury and suspension given the nod ahead of others that had performed in so sterling a manner over the previous handful of games. And so it was that Tom Gardner and Matt Villis took a place on the bench alongside Paul Jarvis and Glenn Gould, while Nathan Rudge donned the armband and linked up with the returning Adam Faux in the heart of defence. Raiff Gwinnett started on the right, and Arran Pugh in midfield completed the Town changes.

It was Gwinnett that had the reporters scrambling inside the first minute of the game when he stole in at the far post to meet a long and deep cross from the left via the boot of Bobby Hopkinson, but Truro goalkeeper Martin Rice, who would go on to have a night to remember, stood up well and batted the ball up and over for a corner kick. However, Tiverton failed to maintain any meaningful early pressure and for long periods of the first half it was Truro that were probing and retaining possession, mostly in the home side’s half of the pitch. Martin Watts capitalised on a mistake from the rusty Faux with less than five minutes on the clock but contrived to drag his shot wide of the mark, and on a rare breakaway Tom Knighton could do little to divert an awkward cross from the left towards goal.

Having weathered an incessant storm and kept the goal intact the next Tiverton chance came once again from a move down the left. Alex Faux showed a great burst of speed to beat Michael Broome and lifted a teasing ball towards the near post. Rice came to gather, Phil Walsh pressured the custodian and the ball broke to Gwinnett, but the young Yellows’ wingback rammed his shot into a wall of defensive cover and the danger was cleared.

The Cornish team were soon back on the offensive and Mike Booth became the first player to work his way into the referee’s notebook when he fluffed a challenge and upended the diminutive and skilful former Town midfielder Matty Bye. The resultant free kick was worked across the edge of the area and eventually through to Watts who drilled a low shot that had Steve Book beaten, but not the foot of the post. But it was the white shirt of Karl Baker that reacted the quickest and he was able to pull the ball back into the goalmouth for Shane Tolley to blast home from close range, putting the visitors a goal to the good.

One became two in the blink of an eye; a third potentially crucial defensive lapse of the game by Tiverton, this time by Rudge, freed the impressive Chris Reski and the Tigers’ midfielder belted the ball beyond the exposed Book’s right hand and into the bottom corner. Nil-two, and an advantage that Truro fully deserved on the balance of the first twenty-five minutes, but one that would be swept away within the next ten as Tivvy finally woke up, began to move the ball around and started to believe in themselves..

Gwinnett picked up a yellow card following a late sliding challenge on Baker tight on the Truro left touchline but the free kick was wasted and the Yellows set about trying to reduce the deficit. James Fraser, mostly anonymous until this stage drew a foul just inside the half way line on thirty minutes and this allowed Tivvy to send the big men forward and pump a ball into the danger zone. Up went Rudge, Pugh and of course Walsh, back to help the defensive cause went James Frayne, and over stepped Hopkinson to deliver. The predictable and agricultural customary launch was sent on its way, Walsh jumped and missed, the ball bounced, Rice watched and Hopkinson had scored! It wouldn’t be the last freak goal of the evening but it was a goal that is seen so often – the goalkeeper is caught betwixed and between as the ball dissects the defence, the attacker created confusion and the defending side look like fools.

One-two, no time to waste, and no time was wasted as Tiverton continued to apply the pressure in the middle of the park. Walsh had dropped deep to challenge and was well placed to receive the ball back from Fraser as Tivvy regained possession in the central third; with Knighton scampering ahead Walsh held on, Knighton checked and then went again leaving the visitor’s defence in a muddle and finally Walsh slid the pass through. It was Knighton versus Rice from that moment on and the Town striker kept calm, rolled the ball beneath the advancing ‘keeper and we were all square again.

The intensity of fifteen minutes which had delivered four goals subsided as the players prepared for their slice of orange, although Pugh might have done better having met Alex Faux’s free kick but he could only help the ball into the arms of Rice, and on the stroke of half time Walsh shot well wide after powering his way into position. The final action of a thrilling opening period was left to the away dugout as Sam Cooper replaced Frayne, and the sides went in locked a two apiece.

After the high-octane first forty-five it was no surprise that things became a little tighter after the managers had been allowed their say, and but for a wildly miscalculated effort from Knighton there was little to get excited about until Bye carelessly chopped Walsh and picked up a booking for his efforts. It was not until the fifty-seventh minute that the game once again sparked into life when Truro countered sharply and the ball found its way to Tolley on the edge of the area in space. Tolley took one touch to control, a stride or two forward, and a second to flash the ball past Book and just inside the near post to put Truro ahead once more.

Knighton lashed a shot on the turn past Rice’s right upright immediately after the restart, and instinctive effort that came about after Fraser had jinked into the penalty area and then finally lost control, and Cooper became the fourth player of the evening to pick up a caution after a late challenge of Matt Villis. Villis, who had replaced Rudge at half-time promptly added his name to the referee’s Christmas card list by showing his disdain at the initial challenge, making it 3-2 to Tiverton on the yellow card count, but more importantly it remained 3-2 to Truro on goals scored.

Jarvis and Gould entered the game to inject life and energy into Tivvy’s forward motion, replacing Gwinnett and Adam Faux respectively, and this meant the Yellows now played a curious system of three central defenders, four central midfielders, a left winger and two strikers. Jarvis initially started wide on the right but would soon move more central, forcing Gould to cover that side of the pitch in the main, but it was the former that made the first impact with a clinical run into the area. The tiring Baker threw a leg out in a half-hearted challenge, Jarvis hit the turf, the referee scratched his head and the linesman flagged for a penalty kick. Fraser, who had put a spot kick away against Yate Town two weeks earlier took control and placed the penalty to Rice’s left; Rice read it, met the ball with a healthy palm and turned the shot around the post; a chance gone.

Broome swept up a loose ball as Walsh poked a weak effort goalwards, and Jarvis fluffed a glorious opportunity from ten yards when he shot wide after meeting Hopkinson’s cross, and time was running out. With just four minutes to play the prospect of extra time was lessening and Gould didn’t help matters by dragging a shot across the face of goal when well placed. But with only a minute of normal time to play Knighton popped up in the area to place an unstoppable shot well out of reach of the goalkeeper and ensure that a chilly evening of entertainment wasn’t quite over. However, Walsh had other idea’s and when he met Alex Faux’s cross it looked nailed on that Tivvy would win 4-3, only for Rice to pull off a fabulous save on the goal line from point blank range.

Tiverton began the first extra period in dominant fashion but the visitors held firm at the back, and when Fraser insisted on shooting with Knighton in acres of space it became clear it was destined not to be for the hosts. Truro, off the hook, raced up to the other end, Tolley rolled the ball inside for Watts, and with every player on the pitch waiting for an offside flag that never arrived Watts sympathetically stuck out a leg, watched the ball skew off his boot, high into the air, over Book and into the net. With Tiverton now needing to throw men forward Truro could have added a few more in the closing stages, but Book saved from Tolley and then McQuade to keep the interest going until the death. However Rice was not called into action again as Walsh headed wide then shot over, and Jarvis’ free kick curled just past the far post.

That was that, 3-4, and Truro take their place in the next round, where they will almost certainly receive a home draw against the geographically closest team possible. That is the way the Southern League Cup works, the games aren’t contrived but the draw absolutely is. And when a side plays a Southern League Cup game four days prior to an FA Trophy game there is only ever going to be one priority. Martyn Rogers’ team selection and lack of expressive disappointment at the full time whistle proves this point; Truro’s team selection does too, and their vocal travelling support will savour more three points in their next league game.

Sure, the competition isn’t quite what it used to be, it can even be perceived as a burden on the season, but it certainly threw up an entertaining game of football at Ladysmead.

Tiverton Town: Steve Book; Raiff Gwinnett (Paul Jarvis 66), Alex Faux, Mike Booth, Nathan Rudge (Matt Villis 46), Adam Faux (Glenn Gould 66), James Fraser, Bobby Hopkinson, Phil Walsh, Arran Pugh, Tom Knighton
Goals: Hopkinson 30, Knighton 34, 89
Booked: Booth 19, Gwinnett 26, Villis 63
Sent off: None

Truro City: Martin Rice; Michael Broome, Karl Bake, Barry McConnell, Graeme Power, Chris Reski (Martyn Moon 79), Matty Bye (Joe Broad 84), Joseph McQuade, Shane Tolley, James Frayne (Sam Cooper 45), Martin Watts
Goals: Tolley 20, 57, Reski 24, Watts 100
Booked: Bye 50, Cooper 63
Sent off: None

This report ©2008 Tivvy Archive