Match report

Bedford Town 1 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 11/04/2009   Southern League Premier Division
Alan Reidy

It is over ten years now since Tiverton Town’s only win at Bedford, a well attended FA Vase game as the Yellows were on their way to Wembley. Saturday marked the fourth return to the New Eyrie since that chilly January afternoon in 1999, and having lost on the previous two visits to the Eagles’ nest there was little reason for optimism on the part of the Yellows, although the performance that was turned in was anything but an apathetical end-of-season showing. Yes, Bedford had their chances – two very good chances in fact – but one would expect that of a home side that have lost only thrice on their own patch this season. However, Tiverton gave as good (and often better) that they got, and but for some wayward finishing the three points could have been coming back to Devon, along with the Easter Holiday caravans.

Martyn Rogers was able to name an unchanged side to the one which took apart Halesowen Town the previous Tuesday, with everyone as fit and healthy as can be expected at the dusk of the season, other than long term injury victims Jamie Mudge and Glenn Gould. That meant that the creative feet of Mike Booth were still occupied in the sweeper position; a hobby-horse of mine, I confess is to use this selection as a criticism when things go wrong. But Rogers showed some tactical nous in the nick of time, moving Booth further up the pitch as Tivvy chased the game.

The game was being chased due to a ninth minute goal from the left boot of Jamie Gould, and what a goal it was! Steve Book had punted a clearance upfield, out towards the Bedford left flank, and well clear of his lines. Down came the ball, five yards from the touchline and less than five yards inside the Tiverton half of the pitch where Gould was placed. The Bedford winger had a quick glance, saw Book on the edge of his penalty area, and sent the ball back from whence it came, high and controlled. Book looked, thought about jumping, but soon realised any attempt was futile. Over his head travelled Gould’s quick effort, well over his head, and down beneath the bar to bounce for the first time a foot behind the goal line. Fifty yards or more, out of the blue, a stunning goal that left smiles of wonderment on the faces of everyone in attendance.

By this stage Mike Armitt at the other end had already made a save as Bobby Hopkinson sent in a low bobbling shot from the edge of the area that skimmed off the difficult surface, and soon after the opening goal Tom Gardner smacked in a shot that cannoned off Stuart Wall’s head and behind for a corner. Despite trailing early on to such a spectacular goal it was Tiverton that looked the more assured in midfield, and they were able to carve out the better chances. Mark Saunders and Paul Wyatt combined on the left wing only for the quick striker to centre his cross a yard behind the onrushing Tom Knighton, and on twenty-five minutes Arran Pugh was on the end of a move, also down the left, but he could only volley Paul Jarvis’ cross a couple of inches over the crossbar.

Five minutes before the break Tivvy worked another fine chance, and this time Armitt was called into action, a chore he carried out impeccably as he got down quickly at the foot of his post to fingertip Booth’s low shot out for a corner. Hopkinson swung in the set piece towards the far post, and Saunders was on the end of it only to see Armitt again pick up the pieces with a sharp stop. The Yellows had enjoyed the vast majority of the play in the first half, and other than a series of three corners that the hosts had won around the quarter-hour mark there was little threat from the Eagles. At the change of ends there was hope for Tivvy and caution for Bedford.

But it was the home side that restarted the sharper of the teams, and Ian Draycott was desperately unlucky not to extend the Eagles’ lead when his shot skimmed off a Tiverton defender, clipped the post and went out for a corner. And just past the hour mark Craig Daniel tried to trump teammate Gould in the quest for Goal of the Season, only to see his shot acrobatically palmed over the crossbar by the seemingly youthful Book.

By now Hopkinson had been withdrawn with a dead leg, replaced by Damien Connery, and this left Tivvy needing to reshuffle. Initially Wyatt moved to the right, Gardner inside, Jarvis to the left and Booth into midfield. Soon enough Wyatt and Jarvis swapped back, and the new system almost bore fruit as Booth crossed and Gardner headed wide. Connery was in on the shooting practice with a scuffed left-footed shot that trickled slowly out for a goal kick, and at the other end Tony Battersby lofted an attempt onto the Southern Bypass.

The final twenty minutes was all about Tiverton, and whether they could find the equaliser that was proving so elusive. Jarvis was by now on the left, the right, in the middle, and making a nuisance of himself, although his final touch left a bit to be desired. One shot, worked after Nathan Rudge and Knighton had exchanged passes, skimmed the outside of Armitt’s upright. Another was headed a yard or two wide of the other post.

But with three minutes left to play the equaliser finally arrived, with Jarvis and Booth at the heart of it. The pair, along with Alex Faux, created space in the left corner, Jarvis eventually lifting in a cross towards the penalty spot. Connery jumped highest and nodded an effort at goal, over Armitt. Graham Clark, who had put in an excellent performance for Bedford up to this point, instinctively raised a hand and punched the ball off the line, leaving the referee with no alternative. Penalty to Tivvy, early bath for Clark. Knighton took the duties, struck the spot kick low, and Armitt was beaten – just. Two hands and half a body on the ball, but in it squirmed, so slowly, across the line, and didn’t even reach the back of the net.

It was enough though; Tiverton had earned a draw that only a travesty would have denied. The game was now theirs to lose, and but for a few edgy passes from defence that conceded possession back to Bedford cheaply there was little to get concerned about from a Tivvy perspective. Indeed, the Yellows, with an extra man for the final few minutes, seemed the keener side, knowing that the win was a possibility, but Bedford kept the visitors at bay, and 1-1 it ended. A point was enough for Bedford to secure their Premier Division status for another season, and enough to allow Tiverton the opportunity to leap three places up the league on Easter Monday. There, that has put the mockers on the next game!

Bedford Town: Mike Armitt; Graham Clark, Eddie Lawley, Jonathan Woolf, Jon Darby, Stuart Wall, Craig Daniel, Callum Lewis, Tony Battersby (Robbie Miller 81), Ian Draycott, Jamie Gould (Ashley Deverall 81)
Goals: Gould 9
Booked: None
Sent off: Clark 86

Tiverton Town: Steve Book, Paul Jarvis, Mike Booth, Matt Villis, Nathan Rudge, Tom Gardner (Alex Faux 79), Arran Pugh (Adam Faux 81), Bobby Hopkinson (Damien Connery 61), Tom Knighton, Mark Saunders, Paul Wyatt
Goals: Knighton 87
Booked: Wyatt 79
Sent off: None

Attendance: 294

This report ©2009 Alan Reidy






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