Match report

Tiverton Town 0 - 1 Evesham United

   Saturday 22/08/2009   Southern League Premier Division
Alan Reidy

Evesham United surprised most onlookers last season with a comfortable top-half finish, having been touted by many as being one of the teams most likely to be battling against relegation. Their first campaign back in the top flight of the Southern League was marred only by a poor disciplinary record, and the physical aspect of their game remains, particularly in the midfield which was where the game against Tiverton was won.

Despite a flurry of yellow cards that punctuated a match that often threatened to boil over United kept their full quota of players on the pitch, kept their goal safely guarded and scored the only goal of the game with fifteen minutes remaining to pick up a deserved victory, their first of the new season. Defeat left Tiverton precariously close to the foot of the table, still searching for a win and still searching for a goal from open play. The Yellows have now played 360 minutes of competitive football since Bobby Hopkinson’s last minute winner at Brackley on the final day of league football last season, and frankly goals don’t look like they about to flow any time soon.

To say that Tivvy are a fragmented unit at present would be a huge understatement, and for the first twenty minutes of the game against Evesham at Ladysmead they barely managed to string two passes together as the visitors dominated the early exchanges. It was only eight minutes into proceedings that Richard Ball whipped in a low cross from the left, across the face of goal and almost onto the foot of the onrushing Jermaine Clarke. However, Tom Gardner tracked back and in the nick of time was able to poke the ball behind for a corner.

United continued to press and Danny Scheppel pulled a shot wide of the target having done well to create space for himself, while Nathan Rudge was also forced into conceding a corner after Ball had linked up with the penetrative Joseph Cole.

After a cumbersome start Tiverton finally managed to push forward and for a brief spell were the better side. Dean Griffiths scampered down the flank to collect a long punt from the goalkeeper and his cross was met by Mark Saunders, only for the veteran midfielder to watch his shot blocked and ultimately cleared from danger. From the other wing Luke Cole twisted and turned and looped in an awkward looking cross that had Richard Mace on his toes, but the ball dropped despairingly onto the roof of the net. And midway through the first half the woodwork kept Mace’s clean sheet intact as Griffiths nodded Ben Cleverley’s corner onto the bar.

A final wave in the sequence came and went with Cleverley again the instigator and Griffiths once again the wasteful culprit. A corner from the left was only half cleared, Cleverley cleverly lifted the ball back into the area over a static defensive line, and Griffiths, seemingly waiting for an offside flag, volleyed the ball dreadfully wide of the target with time and space in his favour.

From thereon in Tiverton were abysmal and could consider themselves lucky that Evesham weren’t much better. The teams were still deadlocked at nil-nil at the interval, mainly thanks to Steve Book who did well to claw away a fizzing Simon Fitter free kick after Matt Villis had unceremoniously upended United’s Cole. Griffiths did forge another half-chance for Tivvy but once more failed to call Mace into action.

The temperature began to rise shortly after the resumption when Saunders seemed to chop down Evesham midfielder Steve Lutz only for the referee to indicate no foul had been committed. Fitter furiously blasted the ball out of play, Lutz received lengthy treatment and was soon back in the thick of the action, and no sooner was the game restarted that Tivvy’s Cole clashed with Clarke and fell awkwardly on his ankle. The resultant injury forced the youngster out of the game, Alex Faux took his place, and Ball then shot lamely at Book having picked off a sloppy square pass from Tom Gardner.

With twenty minutes to play Cleverley skied a free kick that Griffiths won when he was pulled back by Jamie Hyde, the foul earning a yellow card for the Evesham defender. And soon thereafter the visitors nosed ahead in moderately contentious circumstances. A Yellows attack broke down and Cole brought the ball forward only to tangle with second substitute Adam Faux. It was a soft free kick that, if the game was a more flowing affair probably wouldn’t have even been given. Booth belted the ball away in disgust, spelt his name to the referee, and before Town could reorganise themselves Evesham had taken the free kick and moved the ball to Clarke on the edge of the area. Needing no second invitation the gangly striker drilled in a low shot that beat Book’s right hand and nestled into the back of the net.

Tiverton now had to score, something they hadn’t achieved in open play at Ladysmead since Tom Knighton’s strike against Halesowen in early April. Booth threatened twice, firstly from a free kick that went a foot or two wide of the post, and then following a powerful run from deep, but Mace, when he finally had to make a save, came up trumps. Well, almost trumps as he fumbled Booth’s shot but no Yellow shirt was able to capitalise and the loose ball was eventually pumped upfield.

A last roll of the dice saw Craig Veal release Dave Morrissey but the big frontman showed he is left-footed with a daisy-cutting effort with his wrong foot that trickled out for a goal kick. Evesham countered at the death but Scheppel kept up the trend of misplaced shots, and at the full time whistle Alex Faux was shown a straight red card for foul and abusive language directed at the referee. The ‘dismissal’ was the culmination of an afternoon of frustration, and Tiverton will need to get the poor early-season form out of their system as they look ahead to a series of difficult games.


Tiverton Town: Steve Book, Mike Booth, Luke Cole (Alex Faux 53), Matt Villis, Nathan Rudge, Tom Gardner (Craig Veal 78), Mike Humphreys (Adam Faux 65), Ben Cleverley, Dave Morrissey, Mark Saunders, Dean Griffiths
Booked: Booth 74, Saunders 90
Sent off: Alex Faux 90

Evesham United: Richard Mace, Simon Fitter, Jamie Hyde, Danny Hodnett, Steve Hands, Steve Lutz, Joseph Cole, Danny Scheppel, Michael Hayden, Jermaine Clarke (Mark Owen 83), Richard Ball (Robert Ager 87)
Goals: Clarke 74
Booked: Hands 28, Lutz 44, Hyde 70, Ball 77
Sent off: None

Attenance: 280


This report ©2009 Alan Reidy