Match report

Tiverton Town 0 - 0 Clevedon Town

   Wednesday 19/08/2009   Southern League Premier Division
Alan Reidy

When Clevedon visited Ladysmead last season they were woeful. A week later Wayne Powell either jumped or was pushed and new manager Nick Tucker went about turning a bunch of cloggers that looked certainties for relegation into an organised and solid unit. Tucker’s charges responded to the new man at the top, got their heads down and got the ball in the net a few times, culminating in a great escape of McQueenian proportions. And into the new season Clevedon have maintained their improved form, as was evident by the greatly improved showing they delivered on their return to Mid Devon.

As far as goalless draws go this wasn’t too shabby an affair, at least in the first half as both teams played close to the deck, Tiverton looking to press forward and Clevedon playing an intelligent counter attacking game. Two early balls into the Clevedon penalty area indicated the intent of the home side, but Danny Greaves remained unworked thanks to the attentions of his captain Lee Molyneaux and a timely offside flag, and the Seasiders could and should have taken a tenth minute lead. Mark Saunders was caught in midfield, Joey Evans raced clear, but his cross was headed horribly wide by the powerful Tom Billing.

Craig Loxton was the first to bring Steve Book into action, but it was a routine save low down and little more than sixty second later the same player freed Evans only to watch his pal launch a wild shot into the heavens.

It was end to end, not fluent but frantic and reasonably entertaining, as Dean Griffiths had an effort blocked for Tivvy. Luke Cole gobbled up the rebound and his shot deflected lamely through to Greaves, and then Ben Cleverley, who is quickly turning into the heartbeat of Tivvy rasped a shot into the visiting ’keeper’s midriff.

However, for the want of trying there was no way through at either end and Steve Book laid an early claim for Man of the Match by pulling off a fine double-save to deny first Pete Sheppard and then Billing. Indeed Book was unflappable and impressed when confidently claiming a series of crosses from either flank as if he has springs in his boots and glue on his gloves.

Entertaining would be a fair description of the first half, but following the break the match lost all pattern, the ball spent more time in the clouds than on the grass, and the referee, officiating in his first game at this level, discovered that he was quite partial to the shrill peep of his whistle. Into the book went Mike Humphreys, and less than ten minutes later Dave Morrissey; into the advertising hoardings beside Book’s goal went the best chance of the match. It fell to Sheppard after a negligent square ball from Humphreys was cut out, but with no yellow shirt putting the diminutive midfielder under pressure his shot from the edge of the area was scuffed.

Morrissey met Cleverley’s free kick but headed wide at the Swimming Pool end, Nathan Rudge and later Dean Griffiths completed the referee’s collection of names, and the final fifteen minutes followed a pattern all too familiar to regulars at Tiverton games. The Tivvy defence was stoic and they had to be – the midfield had retreated too deep to be a meaningful outlet, the strikers were too well shackled, and so Clevedon came forward in waves. But a series of teasing balls into the box from Brigham, and the increasingly influential full backs Matt Walsh and particularly Josh Brigham were all claimed by the impressive Book or were headed upfield in preparation for the next mini-tsunami. Evans almost had the last laugh but he chipped over the bar, Tivvy held out in a game they would have expected to win, and both teams remain without a win so far this season.

It could be said that Clevedon deserved to win the game, and if endeavour was the deciding factor then this much would be true. However, the Seasiders were poor in front of goal and the finishing prowess they showed was worth no more than a single point. Besides the two saves in quick succession Book wasn’t really tested by a Clevedon shot, and in fact the visitors few chances only came about due to careless losses of possession from Tiverton players.

Tivvy’s attacking play, which promised much in the first half an hour, faded towards anonymity as Morrissey tired. Griffiths ran his socks off but found himself too wide too often, and too keen to beat an extra man before delivering into the danger zone. Veal’s introduction didn’t create a spark and the midfield seldom got forward far enough to support except during set plays. Tiverton need to regain the composure and fluidity they showed during pre-season, and quickly before this season goes the same way as the past two.

Other than that it was a fine return of league football to Ladysmead…

Tiverton Town: Steve Book, Mike Booth, Luke Cole, Matt Villis, Nathan Rudge, Tom Gardner, Mike Humphreys, Ben Cleverley, Dave Morrissey (Craig Veal 73), Mark Saunders (Adam Faux 79), Dean Griffiths
Booked: Humphreys 55, Morrissey 62, Rudge 69, Griffiths 89
Sent off: None

Clevedon Town: Danny Greaves, Josh Brigham, Matthew Walsh, Lee Molyneaux, Dale Peckham, Ellis Wilmot, Joey Evans, Craig Loxton, Tom Billing, Aaron Blakemore (Sam Small 79), Pete Sheppard
Booked: Peckham 38, Billing 44
Sent off: None

Attendance: 321

This report ©2009 Alan Reidy