Match report

Stourbridge 3 - 0 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 28/03/2009   Southern League Premier Division
Alan Reidy

Tiverton’s trip to the West Midlands came on the back of a league season’s best equalling two-game winning streak, and with Banbury and Brackley reeling in the wake of an unstoppable yellow force, Stourbridge were the next to fall. Or at least that was the plan masterminded in Devon, but what wasn’t accounted for was an organised defence and the infuriating James Dyson sat in front of the back four offering extra protection.

No sooner had the game kicked off that the heavens opened, releasing almost a decade’s collection of rain, hail and canine and feline bodies. Down it came, but Tiverton were unperturbed and kept the ball on the deck, kept the ball under control, and bossed the game in midfield. Bobby Hopkinson, Mike Booth and Mark Saunders were close to untouchable, drawing in the Stourbridge tackles before releasing the ball and making the hosts chase again. Nathan Rudge also saw a lot of the ball, but that was as much an indication of how difficult it was for Tivvy to penetrate as how free Tivvy were playing. The midfield trio would happily move from left to right and back again, bringing the flank players of Paul Jarvis and Alex Faux into the equation, but eventually Rudge was required, and with patience running out Tiverton either started the whole episode again or aimed for Damien Connery, the youngster making his first start for the Club.

For all the possession there was little threat to Lewis Solly in the hosts’ goal, and in the early sequences the shot-stopper, who impressed at Ladysmead earlier in the season, had only to field a couple of weak shots from Hopkinson and then Connery. And with twenty minutes on the clock, on just about their first exploration into Tiverton territory, the Glassboys nicked a goal from nothing. Dyson lifted in a cross that looked innocuous enough, Shane Benjamin met it and headed goalwards, again with little obvious threat, and Steve Book was left to scramble across in horror as the attempt crept inside his left post.

The goal settled Stourbridge and Ashley Langford soon went on a weaving run that culminated in a shot which Book parried, while Benjamin blazed high and handsome after turning well in the area and making something out of an exploratory Les Hines free kick that was pumped fifty yards forward. The home side had improved dramatically since taking the lead, but it was still Tiverton that had more of the ball and more of the territory. On the stroke of half time Jamie Mudge did everything right having been played in by Booth, but Solly’s goalpost ensured the home side would go in with a slender advantage.

Mudge curled a shot well over the top shortly after the restart, but that was just about as near as Town came to getting back into the game. Even the possession dried up (it should be said that Stourbridge had never forced the issue when Tivvy had the ball in the first half, and seemed happy to surrender possession in areas of less threat), and the hosts, Langford in particular, began to torment the Tivvy defence on the counter.

There was just twenty minutes left to play when Sam Rock, a half time substitute, put the game beyond reach with Stourbridge’s second. Langford’s throw-in from the right was picked up by Rock, back to goal and surrounded by defenders, but the striker turned and drilled in a low shot that skimmed beyond Book and into the bottom corner. The goal signalled changes for the Yellows; David Hood replaced Alex Faux, then soon afterwards Matt Villis returned to the side in place of Connery. Hood had a half-chance deflected wide by Ryan Mahon, Booth skewed a volley that bounced through to Solly, and Tom Gardner, who had been moved to the left in the Tiverton reshuffle, saw a shot charged down at close quarters by Sam Smith. With ideas extinguished there was just enough time for Stourbridge to help themselves to a third goal of the afternoon as Linden Dovey directed a header across Book’s cover and into the far side of the net.

Tiverton deserved little due to a lack of creativity in attack, and once again failed to convert back-to-back wins into three on the bounce. It is now over a year since Tivvy won three league games on the trot, and nine years since they beat Stourbridge. Indeed, the previous victory over the Glassboys was on April Fools Day 2000, a 3-0 triumph in front of 1,041 fans. An illustration of how times have changed is that it is possible that not that many people in total will witness Tiverton’s final four home games of the season. Now it is time for a rethink, on more than one level.

Stourbridge: Lewis Solly; Kyle Hadley (Sam Rock 46), Les Hines, Ross Collins, Ashley Langford, James Dyson, Sam Smith, Leon Broadhurst, Shane Benjamin (Linden Dovey 78), Ryan Mahon, Aaron Drake (Drew Canavan 87)
Goals: Benjamin 20, Rock, 71, Dovey 86
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Tiverton: Steve Book; Paul Jarvis, Alex Faux (David Hood 72), Adam Faux, Nathan Rudge, Tom Gardner, Mike Booth, Bobby Hopkinson, Damien Connery (Matt Villis 80), Mark Saunders, Jamie Mudge
Booked: Mudge 78
Sent off: None

Attendance: 228

This report ©2009 Alan Reidy






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