Match report

Tiverton Town 5 - 0 Dawlish

   Tuesday 21/04/2009   Devon St Luke's Cup
Alan Reidy

Devon St. Luke's Cup Semi-Final

What a difference a year makes. When Dawlish previously graced the Ladysmead turf they boasted two former Tiverton strikers in their line-up, and two former FA Vase winning Taunton Town players to boot. Unfortunately for our friends from South Devon the past twelve months has been rather tumultuous, and it was only a little while before the Christmas holidays that there were doubts that their very existence would continue due to a relationship that had been forged and then turned sour with Newton Abbot. The good news is Dawlish lives on; the sad news is that they are barely a shadow of the team that knocked Tiverton Town out of the Devon Cup last season. Jamie Mudge has left, back to Tiverton via Dorchester and now on the treatment table, Antony Lynch soon followed, and the departure of previous manager Chris Myers, himself a stalwart of the great Taunton team of the late 1990s, also signalled the end of the sandy lane for Derek Fields and goalkeeper Ryan Draper.

In Joe Bushin they do boast one of the sharpest strikers in the Western League, but he was employed almost as a lone front man for all except the opening twenty minutes of the game, a spell where Dawlish looked hungry and eager, and as such his threat was nullified with little commotion. Even as the Greens started with bright eyes and bushy tails neither Bushin nor the diminutive Liam Moseley were able to threaten the Tivvy goal, and the only shot of any note in an impressive start came in – and sailed wide – from the boot of Matt Micklewhite. Dean Coppard also grafted hard to win a corner off Mark Saunders, but that set piece was cleared, and quite soon it was the hosts in the driving seat.

The first shot on target came from Paul Jarvis, and his inswinging free kick from well out wide on the right gave the first indication that Jason Kinsman was not the most complete goalkeeper in the world. Kinsman stopped the shot, but with both hands on the ball he was still only able to pat it up and right and out for a corner. That flag kick was quickly followed by a second as former Dawlish defender turned Tiverton midfielder Arran Pugh had a header deflected wide. And the second became a third, and finally a brief reprieve for the visitors as they combined to scramble away another goalbound header, this time from Tom Gardner.

Paul Wyatt had a shot tipped away, Pugh missed the target, and then Wyatt again was denied by Kinsman as Tiverton dominated the possession, dictated the tempo, and frankly looked light years ahead of their opponents. The goal was coming, and eventually it arrived thanks to some incisive close control from Saunders. A move down the left reached Gardner and then came back into the central zone as the veteran midfielder floated in space on the far side. Saunders drifted in himself, met a shot pass and with two quick touches on the edge of the area he found himself beyond the defence. From there the outcome was certain, and experience showed its worth and Saunders carefully poked the ball into the corner of the net with the outside of his right boot.

There was more to come for the Yellows, and Jarvis should have doubled the advantage five minutes later, but Kinsman scrambled at his far post to narrow the angles and deny the Tivvy winger. However, shortly before the break the Dawlish shotstopper was retrieving the ball once again from the net behind him. Saunders was typically and integral cog, his quick flick drifting perfectly for Tom Knighton to smash the ball home with ferocity and style. Two-nil almost became three-nil barely sixty seconds later but the referee deemed that Coppard’s challenge in the area on Bobby Hopkinson was fair despite the flag-waving of his better placed assistant.

The funny thing about the penalty that never was is this: on a number of occasions during the first half Martyn Rogers had spared some choice words for the linesman as he continuously refused to give decisions (either way, it should be said) until receiving an indication from the referee. The first time he finally took matters into his own flag and signalled a foul the man in the middle decided to overrule him. Who would be a lineman?

And so there we were, two up at the break, but the gulf in class was significant and there was little chance that the scoring was done. But what wasn’t expected almost happened five minutes after the restart. Dawlish came within a whisker of getting back into the game when Moseley’s deep cross flew over the Tivvy defence and fell perfectly for Bushin. On the volley the prodigy struck, straight at Steve Book’s legs. The orange clad Tiverton ’keeper didn’t know much about the save he made, but he made it and soon enough it was business as usual, with the Yellows on the front foot once again.

A brace of corners were won by the home side; the first from the right was delivered by Jarvis and headed powerfully onto his own goal post by Craig Fenner. From the other side Hopkinson took his turn from the flag, and this time Dawlish cleared, regrouped and then got prised open on by a clinical counter attack. Knighton was slow to retreat, but as he walked uninterestedly back so Paul Wyatt sprinted forward, latched onto a through ball and skipped past Kinsman before rolling the ball into an unguarded net to put the outcome of the tie beyond doubt.

Knighton shot wide; Dean Stevens did likewise at the other end; and then Knighton again failed to hit the target with a curling effort from a difficult angle. And with sixty-six minutes on the clock Tivvy – and Hopkinson – won yet another corner as the midfielder saw a powerful drive cannon off the back of a defender and loop over the crossbar. Hopkinson took the corner himself, and in a crowded goal area Nathan Rudge proved the strongest and headed home from close range to put Tiverton four goals to the good.

A relatively uneventful ten minutes followed, a period which saw Rudge replaced by Alex Faux, and on the next meaningful foray forward Tivvy went nap and Knighton moved to the top of the Yellows goalscoring charts for the season. Saunders was again a main player as his ferocious low drive skimmed off the surface and Kinsman was unable to do anything more than spill the ball in front of himself. Knighton showed he was awake and nipped in to tap the ball over the line from a few yards out, moving to twelve goals for the season in the process.

There were further substitutions, a double for deflated and defeated Dawlish, while Damien Connery took over from Saunders for Tiverton. The final fifteen minutes also saw a Town debut for Youth team goalkeeper Dan Stapleton, but his role was one merely of taking goal kicks as he remained as untroubled as Book had for the previous hour and a quarter. Stapleton might have been picking the ball out of the onion bag had Moseley brought his shooting boots, but a rare Dawlish opening saw the striker slice lamely wide from the edge of the area in added time.

Tiverton now await the result of the second semi-final between Elmore and Exeter City and will welcome the winners of that tie to Ladysmead for the final game of the 2008-09 season. Since the inauguration of the Devon St. Luke’s competition in 1981 Tiverton have lifted the bowl nine times. In 1997 the three professional clubs in the county joined the party, since when Exeter have triumphed on three occasions. Elmore have yet to record a victory, their best run coming in 1991 when they lost the final on penalties to Tiverton. What odds on the Eagles finally prevailing, on the Grecians making it four wins in eight years, or on Tivvy reaching double figures?

Tiverton Town: Steve Book (Dan Stapleton 78), Paul Jarvis, Mike Booth, Matt Villis, Nathan Rudge (Alex Faux 67), Tom Gardner, Arran Pugh, Bobby Hopkinson, Tom Knighton, Mark Saunders (Damien Connery 75), Paul Wyatt
Goals: Saunders 35, Knighton 41, 75, Wyatt 53, Rudge, 67
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Dawlish Town: Jason Kinsman; Dean Coppard (Lee Fenner 75), Doug Ford (James Spence 75), Craig Fenner, Simon Laughton, Matt Micklewhite, Gary Fisher, Adam Shearer (Tom Moody 67), Liam Moseley, Joe Bushin, Dean Stevens
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Attendance: 160

This report ©2009 Alan Reidy






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