Match report

Tiverton Town 3 - 2 Clevedon Town

   Saturday 27/12/2008   Southern League Premier Division
Alan Reidy

All Martyn Rogers wanted for Christmas was three points against Corby, a Trophy win, and another three points at home to Clevedon Town so it is unlikely that there are many more contented managers in the Southern League as we scamper towards the New Year and a date with Chippenham. Steve Bateman at Hemel will be singing with joy too as his side took maximum points over the week, and Phil Lines at Brackley, who saw his team pummel Corby will be able to rival Rogers’ happiness but the Tiverton gaffer will be sitting comfortable in the knowledge that his charges have bustled their way to the edge of the playoff places in two foul swoops.

Unlike a week earlier in Northamptonshire Clevedon didn’t gift wrap the points, and while there was always the feeling that Tivvy were in control they were forced to work hard to finally see off the pluckiness of the Seasiders. Paul Wyatt’s early header laid the foundations for a dominant opening fifteen minutes for the home side, but some slack defensive play allowed the elf-built Pete Sheppard to head home an equaliser just before the break. Alex Faux restored Tiverton’s lead early in the second period and Mike Booth coolly slotted home a penalty ten minutes later to create some breathing space. For most of the second half the Yellows were well on top but Dale Peckham scored from close range in added time to set up a nervy final minute or two.

A healthy crown of 420 were roused early on as Tom Knighton, in for the unwell Phil Walsh battled to force a throw-in deep in Clevedon territory five minutes into the game. Bobby Hopkinson’s throw was cut out at the near post by Peckham but the visitors’ captain could only nod the ball behind for a corner, and Hopkinson curled the set piece towards the edge of the goal area. Wyatt was in place to meet the cross and headed towards goal, the unfortunate Danny Greaves could only put out an arm blindly as the setting sun hindered his vision, and despite the best defensive efforts the ball was across the line before it could be sliced into the roof of the net by a black and blue shirted player.

Even by this early stage it was easy to see why Clevedon were flirting with relegation, and further tardy defending by Simon Heal allowed Knighton to race down the left flank. The returning striker powered a low cross into the danger zone but Wyatt was unable to get on the end of it and Clevedon were momentarily off the hook. Adam Faux, though, had raced down his wing to pick up the pieces and when he was promptly upended Hopkinson had another chance to lift a ball in towards the dazed Clevedon defence. Lift he did and a quick game of wiff-waff was brought to a close as Wyatt acrobatically volleyed well over the crossbar.

We were still only ten minutes old, and the away side had yet to gain any meaningful possession when they thanked their lucky stars that the leading margin wasn’t further increased. Hopkinson the architect lifted in another corner, Arran Pugh headed at goal, the ball was half cleared from the line, Pugh headed again, the ball was half cleared again, and finally Tom Gardner drilled in a rasping shot that could have gone anywhere when it met with legs in the crowded area, but it went to the relative safety of the unattended Clevedon left back position.

The first sighter the visitors were able to muster proved to carry little to danger Steve Book’s goal. Danny Wring, who had scored twice against Tiverton for Mangotsfield earlier in the season lined up a free kick twenty yards from goal, hammered it against the foot of the yellow wall, and then regained it only to see his cross blocked as he aimed towards the by-line. The corner won was cleared with ease and Tiverton went back on the offensive.

Knighton forced Greaves into a hasty clearance but Wyatt was unable to arrange his feet in a way suitable for sending the ball anywhere near the gaping net, and Adam Faux was curiously penalised for a foul that left him hobbling and in need of medical attention. Faux was forced to leave the play temporarily, and when Nathan Rudge intercepted a wayward arm whilst in the process of clearing a far post cross Tivvy were left with just nine fit soldiers for a couple of minutes. A change of socks for Faux (his leftie had been shredded as he ‘fouled’) and a new shirt for Rudge (yellow and crimson blood not only looks ugly but is also not allowed) and Tiverton were restored to full strength, one tooth less between them.

Clevedon had thwarted the Yellows’ momentum and gone about seeking an equalising blow, but they seldom got close until Jon Else’s shot ricocheted around the area. Alex Faux was on hand to poke the ball off the toe of Kyle Bassett and behind for a corner, but Clevedon had to wait only for the cross to loop towards the back post before they were back on level terms. Book will be kicking himself that he allowed the cross to sail over his head, questions will be asked as to why there was no Tiverton defender on the far stick, but Pete Sheppard couldn’t care less. He ambled in unnoticed and couldn’t miss from a yard or two out, unchallenged, unmarked.

Bassett was quickly back on the front foot and sent a low shot wide of the mark, and a few minutes before the half time break Adam Faux finally earned a booking he had supposedly been working towards. No complaints as he was late into a challenge with Tom Billing, but the referee had already marked his card earlier in the match. The first half was brought to a close as Mike Booth fired a powerful first time shot that was deflected behind, and when Hopkinson’s corner was punched clear by Greaves the man in black decided he had seen enough for the time being.

There must have been an extra spoonful of get-up-and-go in the half time cuppa as Tiverton came out with guns blazing. They really shouldn’t have been in anything other than the lead but balance of play means little, so the first task was to put the wrongs right and get their noses back in front. The exceptional Mike Booth led the charge and he pelted down the right wing having got behind Sam Jones, and was able to pick his spot for the cross. From almost on the goal line Booth rolled the ball diagonally back, a stray Clevedon boot slightly changed the course – perfectly into the path of Alex Faux. Faux had made up ground unseen by all on the opposite side of the pitch as Booth made the initial break, and by the time the ball reached the far post he was on hand to keep cool and place his effort beyond Greaves.

Lead regained, the next challenge was to open up a zone of comfort, and it wasn’t long until Tivvy achieved this aim. Another swift break down the right, this time from Knighton, had the striped shirts from Somerset chasing once again. Knighton reached the box and cut in to search for a teammate or a better shooting angle. As he did he was crushed between Peckham and Jones, and the linesman flagged frantically. The myopia suffering referee saw nothing and play continued for a few seconds until Hopkinson fouled Josh Brigham in the centre circle. Hopkinson was incensed at the total inability of the referee from Bridgwater and told him so. Brigham expressed his own thoughts on the matter and both were cautioned, but finally the consultation between the officials came to pass, and finally Tiverton were awarded a penalty that Knighton had rightly earned. The main problem with this whole passage was not only the fact that the whole Tiverton right wing was a blind spot for the referee, but also that the assistant referee (The Artist Formerly Known As Linesman) flagged initially and then dropped his signal as play moved back up field.

Penalties aren’t our forte, and with the list of candidates decreasing with every failed conversion Mike Booth took the weight and opened up the opportunity for himself to become Tivvy’s fourth failed spot-kick taker of the season. But not a chance! Booth was nerveless, sold Greaves one way with a slight drop of the shoulder and rolled the ball a foot inside the other post. Tiverton were two clear and had scored a penalty. Merry Christmas indeed!

Rudge was not quite toothless but was withdrawn from the action, his battle scarred face being replaced by the lively legs and incisive passing of Paul Jarvis, and soon afterwards Clevedon made their only change of the game as Germaine Palmer took over from Kyle Bassett. With the game as good as won the tempo subsided and Peckham was curiously added to the list of names in the referee’s pocket for what can only be described as an accidental pair of collisions with his own player.

Wring felled Wyatt on the edge of the area, off to the right, and Jarvis struck the free kick straight down Greaves’ throat, Sheppard as good as caught Hopkinson’s drilled cross, but the referee had already given one penalty he didn’t want to so waved play on (this time the lineman was unsighted and on the wrong side of the pitch), and Knighton fired just over the crossbar when a sprightly counter attacked opened up a chance that was easier to score than to blunder.

One final meaty challenge left the goalscoring Faux crumpled, and in his absence the Seasiders found space on the right, substitute Hughes crossed and Peckham met the ball for the simplest of finishes at the far post. Having enjoyed almost every opening in the game Tivvy had seen some of the gloss taken off the performance with a couple of sloppy goals against, but there was simply no time for Clevedon to threaten an equalising blow, and they wouldn’t have deserved it anyway. Tiverton march onwards and upwards; on this showing Clevedon are in for a long slog in the first four months of 2009.


Tiverton Town: Steve Book, Adam Faux (Glenn Gould 68), Alex Faux, Matt Villis, Nathan Rudge (Paul Jarvis 59), Tom Gardner, Mike Booth, Bobby Hopkinson (Mark Saunders 87), Tom Knighton, Arran Pugh 90, Paul Wyatt
Goals: Wyatt 6, Alex Faux 48, Booth 57
Booked: Adam Faux 42, Hopkinson 55
Sent off: None

Clevedon Town: Danny Greaves; Simon Heal, Sam Jones, Josh Brigham, Dale Peckham, Danny Wring, Kyle Bassett (Germaine Hughes), Jon Else, Lewis Powell, Tom Billing, Pete Sheppard
Goals: Sheppard 38, Peckham 90
Booked: Brigham 55, Peckham 71
Sent off: None

Attendance: 420

This report ©2008 Alan Reidy






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