Match report

Tiverton Town 2 - 1 Bashley

   Saturday 14/02/2009   Southern League Premier Division
Alan Reidy

There are strong and popular online communities that focus on the Championship Manager and Football Manager computer games, and if one takes the time to follow these fan sites then it soon becomes clear that members (or should that be players, or managers?) start to believe that certain occurrences are predetermined. An example is that a game player seems to think that if he clicks on the button that allows him to change his tactics during a game then the opponents will score. Another is that every player will score their first goal of the season against the team you are controlling. A third, and this is the one that is relevant, is that you can guarantee you will draw a team in your own league in the FA Trophy or FA Cup.

And that, of course, was the case as Tiverton Town and Bashley had already met three times earlier in the season having been paired together in the Trophy and battled out a draw prior to the Ladysmead replay that Tiverton won. That was Bashley’s second visit to these shores and their second defeat by a one-goal margin, and less than two months later they were back in Devon, snow now melted and pitch in fine fettle, to lose once again by a single goal. And wouldn’t you just know it, Jamie Mudge, who had spent most of the season just down the road from Bashley at Dorchester Town, scored his first goal of the season in Tivvy Colours. It is uncertain whether Bash manager Steve Riley had clicked the tactics button though…

Like they always do, Tiverton laboured out of the blocks and the first three minutes of the game saw the yellow half of the pitch congregated towards their orange goalkeeper. Bashley knew they were in for a battle, and flew off determinedly with the intentions of getting an early advantage, a project that could have borne some fruit but for the wayward radar of Matt Finlay’s boot that sent an early shot sailing high and harmlessly over Steve Book’s crossbar. It was the culmination of forty-five seconds in which a Tiverton played only touched the ball in a blocking effort, and for the next few minutes the pattern was retained, but gradually the Yellows began to find their way into the match, with both Mark Saunders and Bobby Hopkinson enjoying comforting touches of the ball, albeit deep in their own territory..

The Devco End had barely been touched for the opening three minutes, and when finally Tivvy managed to explore beyond the half way line they were soon greeted with the referees whistle and a free kick, Arran Pugh being illegally barged ten yards into Bash territory. It was harmless territory that became even more harmless when Paul Jarvis played the resulting free kick short to Hopkinson, putting his colleague under pressure. However, the ball broke under a challenge back to a yellow shirt and was eventually pumped into the penalty area, as it should have been originally. Phil Walsh was in place to help the ball on, Nathan Rudge was also in place, and with his back to goal the Town captain worked wonders to swivel with close control and fire towards goal. The shot was powerful and rising, David Elm, glovesman for the visitors, instinctively raised both hands, and watched Rudge’s shot fly through his grasp and into the net. Four minutes, Tivvy one up!

There is no better way to answer the questions of being put under pressure than to score at the first attempt, and that is just what Tiverton had done. To build upon the lead is another matter altogether, and while the home side enjoyed the better of the play, and were much more controlled, it was Bashley that worked the next opening. Dave Allen combined with Richard Gillespie, left to right across the penalty area but once the ball approached the goal area Steve Book was on hand to claim, and then Gillespie aimed a shot wide of the mark after a swift counter attack on thirteen minutes.

Arran Pugh might have done better and given Tivvy a two goal lead but he could only head over the top after Jarvis and Hopkinson worked a short corner routine, and with Town well on top Walsh was the next to spurn a chance. Mudge delivered a classy through ball that left the visiting defensive line rooted, but Walsh belted his shot straight at Elm.

Another breakaway from Bashley should have resulted in an equalising blow but the lively Charlie Knight saw his shot batted down and away by Book before the game began to peter out into one of those midfield battles that generally happen when two teams become so familiar. For something to happen we needed a spark, a moment of ingenuity, a touch of class in a robust and fragmented game. After twenty-seven minutes we got just that as Mark Saunders, who had been busy pulling strings and breaking things down in midfield finally found the time and opportunity to play a forward pass. Typically for Tiverton it went up as much as it went out, but it was up and out in harmony. Jarvis found himself in an attacking midfield area and read the flight perfectly, reacting to the trajectory and to the call of "flick it" from behind. Jarvis flicked it, and the shout from Mudge paid dividends as the striker nipped in with perfect timing behind the Bashley defence. Elm moved out and hesitated; there was no such quandary for Mudge who carefully yet convincingly lifted the ball over the advancing goalkeeper. Up went the ball, and down it came, below the cross bar and between the sticks.

Two might have been three a couple of minutes later but for a wayward shot from Mudge. Jarvis had belted down the flank, skipped two challenges and then found himself sandwiched between the third and fourth, earning Tiverton a free kick thirty yards out. Hopkinson curled one in, just like he did at Merthyr, towards Saunders at the back post. This time, however, Matt Parnell reached the ball first and nodded it behind. The corner that followed was cleared as far as Mudge, lurking on the edge of the area, but his shot was still rising as it cleared the bar and crashed into the terrace.

With barely half an hour played and the home side well on top it was surprising that this was the last real effort of the first half, and the only incidents of note thereafter were cautions for James Rowe for a late challenge of Rudge, and for Hopkinson for a needless foul deep into added time at the end of the opening half.
Martyn Rogers certainly appeared to have got his point across well during the recess as Tivvy were flying at the start of the second half and pinned back their visitors. The early domination was short lived though, and after Walsh picked up on a Mudge pass and shot tamely at Elm the momentum was tempered by a more determined and organised Bashley outfit. The Hampshire team slowly but surely showed their mettle and it was soon Tiverton that were relying on counter attacks.

Attacking intentions were increased as Justin Keeler replaced Rowe, and it was Charlie Knight that worked Bashley’s first two opening of the second half. The first, from a shot corner, saw him aim a shot from the corner of the box that went little more than a yard high and wide of the far post with Book scrambling, and the second, a break from deep, required Matt Villis to cover and clear.

Chris Knowles was the next in on the new attacking act of the visitors but his shot was weak and gathered comfortably, as was Gillespie’s try from just inside the area. In between these moves there was enough time for Allen to share his name with the referee, an innocuous looking foul on Hopkinson leading the man in black to point like the Aero adverts – here, here, here, yellow for persistent fouling.

Tivvy were playing deeper and deeper but one break should have put the result beyond doubt; Walsh powered through the middle but didn’t fancy it, fed Mudge in a wider position and eventually a shot came in and sailed high. Walsh clearly didn’t look comfortable and this move typified it; he was away – if he wanted to be – but from the moment he picked the ball up he was always looking for support. Mudge offered this but was never as well placed as his strike partner.

Into the second half of the second half things became interesting. Paul Wyatt replaced Pugh and played an unaccustomed midfield role and no sooner was Wyatt in place that Allen fluffed an excellent chance to pull one back, but having met Gillespie’s cross he could only punt his shot straight at the Tivvy goalkeeper.

The game was now all about Bashley trying and Tiverton trying to stop them, and for a while it was good for the home side. Bash enjoyed all the possession to shake all the sticks at, all between the centre backs. Mudge and Walsh covered the full backs of Paul Gazzard and the almost totally anonymous Chris Ferrett, Hopkinson and Wyatt advanced to cut off any supply into midfield, and so it was that Chris Parnell and Gary Middleton could play with each other, as long as they dare not go forward. But then Tivvy shot themselves in the foot; a lofted ball was easily cut out, and with the home support yelling "slow down, keep it" Villis strolled out of the back line as if he was Der Kaiser. One loose pass later and the ball was with Finlay. One jink to the left later and a splendid and powerful shot later Steve Book was picking the ball out of the net. Finlay had cracked on from thirty yards with great vigour, Villis was looking bashful, and the arrears had been halved.

There were close to twenty minutes still to play, and Bashley fancied it, but credit is due to the Tiverton defence for they gave the white and green kitted side barely a sniff from there on in. To the point where there was nothing of note in my book – yes, Bashley pressed, yes, they probed. High balls in desperation into the Tiverton area were always cut out by Gardner or the impressive Rudge, and Villis made amends with his share of clearing headers and interceptions. Book behind the trio saw nothing of the ball for the final exchanges, besides a curious punch from a left wing cross that he was happy to see Villis deal with. For all their graft Bashley lacked the knowledge, and at the death a break from Tivvy saw Mudge and Walsh combine one last time, only for the latter to be denied as Elm rushed out to smother at the feet of the striker.

And so in the end the result was just like it always is when Bashley visit Ladysmead. Well almost, Three games, 2-1 and 2-1 this season, 1-0 last term. What happens next year depends on whether Tiverton really are play-off contenders and whether Bashley really are relegation candidates. Simply put, on the first half Tivvy are good enough; on the second half so are Bashley. I expect our paths will cross again very soon.


Tiverton Town: Steve Book; Adam Faux, Paul Jarvis, Matt Villis, Nathan Rudge, Tom Gardner, Arran Pugh (Paul Wyatt 67), Bobby Hopkinson, Phil Walsh, Mark Saunders, Jamie Mudge
Goals: Rudge 4, Mudge 27
Booked: Hopkinson 45
Sent off: None

Bashley: David Elm; Paul Gazzard, Chris Ferrett, Gary Middleton (Duncan Bray 89), Matt Parnell, Chris Knowles, Matt Finlay, James Rowe (Justin Keeler 48), Dave Allen, Richard Gillespie, Charlie Knight
Goals: Finlay 73
Booked: Rowe 39, Allen 59
Sent off: None

Attendance: 333


This report ©2009 Alan Reidy






Please note: The � or ? character in some older reports denotes where an error has occured in translation when the reports were transfered between databases