Match report

Tiverton Town 3 - 0 Halesowen Town

   Tuesday 07/04/2009   Southern League Premier Division
Alan Reidy

Halesowen’s recent troubles were all too apparent when they finally made the trip to Ladysmead last Tuesday evening for the twice-postponed league encounter. Early season title favourites, they are now a shell of their former selves, and but for a few brief moments of individual skill they looked like a team happy to go through the motions, take what they had coming, and get the season over and done with. Morale was visibly low amongst the players, understanding and continuity too, and on the evening they were worth little more than the eventual 3-0 defeat that Tiverton Town handed them.

To accentuate Halesowen’s woes, Tiverton weren’t nearly as fluent as they had been in two previous games, both of which ended in defeat, but the Yellows were still substantially better than their visitors, and seldom needed to extend themselves to creaking point in order to pick up the points. The Yeltz disheartened performance was illustrated twice inside the first five minutes when both Bobby Hopkinson and then Tom Gardner laboured in possession, lost out, but were not punished for their mistakes. Indeed, Steve Book in the Tivvy goal was only called into action to collect a hopeful long range effort from Graham Deakin.

Deakin fired a free kick a few yards high as he stood out amongst his teammates, but within a matter of minutes the ball was at the other end and Hopkinson brought Halesowen ’keeper Nick Bussey into action with a solid shot. It was end-to-end stuff for a brief while as Book was called upon to save from James Johnson seconds later, the ball having been cleared directly by Aaron Griffiths after Bussey’s parry.

Midway through the first half Hopkinson and Bussey again contrived to keep the scores level as Hopkinson cut from the right and smashed a left-footed shot that was aiming towards the top corner, and Bussey flew off his marks and pushed the ball behind for a corner.

But the goal was coming as Tiverton began to dominate the game, and another series of corners, one of which saw Mark Saunders’s shot cleared off the line, eventually lead to the first goal of the game. From the left Hopkinson swung in the cross, and on the edge of the six yard box Arran Pugh had an easy task of powering home a header. It was easy for Pugh, who at more than six-and-a-half feet tall was never going to be challenged by a Yeltz defence that was, aside from James Loney, vertically challenged.

Paul Jarvis was the next to have a pop at the target, but his shot, from an identical position to Hopkinson’s ten minutes earlier, drifted just the wrong side of the post. And on the stroke of half time Bussey was again in the thick of it, palming behind a shot from Jarvis that was low and dangerously close to the bottom corner of the net. From the corner, the last play in the half, Pugh once again got his head to Hopkinson’s cross, but this time was unable to direct his attempt on target.

Tiverton were comfortable and deservingly ahead, but another error from Gardner allowed the relatively sprightly Tayler Thomas in, only for the winger to shoot horribly wide. A second and ultimately final chance to level fell to Halesowen after Gardner’s foul on Francis Williams had allowed Griffiths to try his luck from a free kick. Griffiths curled the ball over the defensive wall, but Nathan Rudge was on hand to head the ball off the line. Book watched, knowing it was a routine clearance, and had Rudge not been there then the ball was easy picking for the orange-clad custodian.

The crucial goal of the game was fortuitous in nature, but deserved as Tiverton began to up the tempo just after the hour mark. Hopkinson’s throw-in was headed away, 30 yards from goal and slightly to the left as Tiverton looked. Gardner, who despite what this report might suggest, was having a cracking game, looped the ball back into the box, Blue shirts watched it sail over their heads, and Bussey watched it bounce a few yards in front of him. And bounce it did, over Bussey, under the bar, and across the line. I will hazard a guess this is the first time Gardner has scored from such a distance, and he didn’t even mean it!

There was little in the Halesowen tank after the killer second goal, and but for a half-chance for Williams they never looked like breaching the Tivvy rearguard. And with five minutes remaining the game was tucked in and put to bed as Jarvis slid a through ball that sliced the Halesowen defence, allowing Tom Knighton to sprint in and calmly place just inside Bussey’s left upright. Game, set and match Tiverton. On came Alex Faux and Damien Connery, and Faux was unlucky not to further increase the Town lead as his shot was inadvertently deflected wide by Knighton.

To say that Halesowen are a shadow of the side that lost narrowly at The Grove on the opening day of the season is a bit of a mistruth. In fact they were almost a completely different team altogether. Bussey, Jay Denny and Daryl Taylor remained from that match in August. Taylor has gone and returned to the club, spending more than five months of the season elsewhere, and Denny, a rounded midfielder was employed at Ladysmead in central defence. Granted, Deakin and Thomas looked useful enough, but otherwise there was little zest and no bite to the Yeltz. Tiverton, meanwhile, started with nine players that were involved at the big kick-off, and showed a greater understanding on the pitch, while the guile they were lacking wasn’t really needed.

We now move on to Bedford, Halesowen have bigger problems than worrying about what Hemel Hempstead might do to them on Saturday.

Tiverton Town: Steve Book; Paul Jarvis, Mike Booth, Matt Villis, Nathan Rudge (Alex Faux 85), Tom Gardner, Arran Pugh, Bobby Hopkinson, Tom Knighton, Mark Saunders, Paul Wyatt (Damien Connery 85)
Goals: Pugh 37, Gardner 62, Knighton 85
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Halesowen Town: Nick Bussey; James Loney, Aaron Griffiths, Jack Allward, Jay Denny, Graham Deakin, Tayler Thomas (Patrick Daval 77), Paul O’Brien, Francis Williams, James Johnson, Daryl Taylor
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Attendance: 143

This report ©2009 Alan Reidy






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