Match report

Hemel Hempstead 0 - 2 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 24/10/2009   Southern League Premier Division
Alan Reidy

After six months of trying Tiverton Town won a competitive match away from home, and the three points were deserved against a Hemel Hempstead town side that have been struggling in equal measure to the Yellows over the past couple of months. Mark Saunders opened the scoring on 35 minutes at a stage where Tivvy were just beginning to get on top of the game, and Colin Marshall’s 73rd minute penalty sealed the victory.

It was an unfamiliar Tiverton side that took to the field at Vauxhall Road with both left winger Elliott Frear and forward Adam Mortimore making club debuts, and with Marshall only one game more experienced in a yellow shirt it was understandable that the initial phase of the game would be somewhat disjointed. During this time Hemel had most of the ball and most of the territorial advantage but their low morale was apparent as they huffed and puffed without really doing a great deal.

A few shots rained in from the home side without reward – Jamie Eames dragged an effort horribly wide of Steve Book’s right goalpost from far our when Tivvy failed to get enough purchase on a headed clearance from a hopeful high cross, and Steve Book twice saved at the opposite upright. The first of these saves denied Ryan Blake as the nippy striker drilled a corss-shot in from near the by-line, and the second was a fine diving stop to keep out a curling Leon Soloman shot that didn’t actually need keeping out as it was heading just wide anyway.

Besides those two shots there was little threat from the Tudors and after 30 minutes of going nowhere the tide began to turn as Tiverton started to dictate the tempo of the match. Out of his hands Book nearly struck gold when his long punt down the slope bounced once as Mark Saunders and Yiadom Yeboah together misjudged the flight of the ball due to a brisk wind. Over that pair and over the head of Hemel goalkeeper Michael McEntegart sailed the ball, and a couple of yards wide of the goal at the bottom of the hill.

Soon enough another chance was carved out as Tiverton increased the pressure, but after latching onto a through ball from Mortimere Mike Booth was tripped in the area by McEntegart. Booth wanted a penalty, most observers expected a penalty, and the glovesman would later admit he caught the Tivvy midfielder, but the referee gave nothing. It wasn’t necessary to hear McEntegart’s post-match confession, so blatant was the trip, but to their credit Tiverton converted their frustration into more energy and kept on the front foot.

Frear cut in from the left but his shot towards the near post was well saved and two minutes later another move down the same flank finally led to the breakthrough. Frear was again in acres of space and held the ball up as Alex Faux pegged down the touchline on the overlap. The ball was slid past the woefully inadequate Danny May, Faux crossed and Mortimore flicked a header onwards. Waiting unattended by red shirts was Mark Saunders and the veteran swivelled and shot in one movement, the ball bobbled agonisingly wide of McEntegart’s sprawling hand and snuck into the corner of the net.

Tivvy deserved the lead purely because they showed more enterprise with the ball compared to their hosts. Hemel had probably enjoyed 70% of possession, Tivvy just five minutes of attacking play, but that was all it took to figure out a way through the red defensive line. Hemel couldn’t respond and when Louis Austin met Eames’ corner with a goalbound header the game was summed up in the blink of an eye – a combination of Tom Gardner, Nathan Rudge and Adam Faux threw their bodies in the way of the ball, hacked clear and Book behind them remained a spectator.

Frear and Blake exchanged shots either side of the interval, Frear once again on target and denied but McEntegart, Blake typically wide which summed up his afternoon. The one time Book was called into shotshopping action in the second half was to bat away a fierce swerving effort from afar that moved around in the air viciously off the boot of Chris Doyle. Otherwise Book was kept on his toes only to punch away a few corners and pluck from the air a few crosses, a duty he complied with despite the lowering sun leaking into his eyeline later in the game.

Hemel did show a bit of character in the first fifteen minutes of the second half but Yeboah sent a header wide, Blake chipped over then headed over and eventually the ideas and the belief ran out. Hemel were already a beaten team before Tiverton doubled their advantage, and even prior to that the game looked like turning into the Frear and McEntegart show as time and again the winger scampered off down his wing and time and again his powerful shots were turned over the bar.

Frear’s zestful performance forced Clark Akers into a hideously late challenge that saw the Hemel man booked, and Akers was remarkably lucky not to see yellow for a second time just a minute or two later when he produced a similar (though not as aggressive) challenge on Alex Faux. More worryingly for the hosts was that Akers second foul was inside the area and had earned Tivvy a penalty. Marshall stepped up to ram the ball into the net and give the Yellows a margin of comfort, Akers was allowed to see the game out, and Tiverton could have scored more in the final seventeen minutes plus the curiously large seven minutes of added time.

Booth repaid the earlier move that should have resulted in a penalty by clipping a through ball into the path of Mortimore but Hemel’s one good player on the day McEntegart yet again saved low down, and in the final minute of regulation time he did the same to keep Frear from making a goalscoring debut. At the other end… nothing but for two long-range attempts from substitute and top scorer Lewis Hillard, both of which were screwed wide of the mark.

Three points helps but it doesn’t even start to paper over the cracks. In truth Hemel were a poor side, better only than Rugby Town out of the teams Tiverton have faced this season, but you can only beat what is in front of you and in Tivvy’s case that wasn’t a great deal. The game as a whole wasn’t exciting and lacked quality throughout with the exception of Frear who added and interesting new element to the Tivvy side. But the Yellows put in a workmanlike performance, particularly Booth, Humphreys and Marshall in the engine room, and were rewarded with a result that their efforts deserved.


Hemel Hempstead Town: Michael McEntegart, Danny May (Rio Bryan-Edwards 60), Leon Soloman (Lewis Hillard 81), Yiadom Yeboah, Matthew McEntegart, Clark Akers, Jamie Eames, Ben Long, Ryan Blake, Louis Austin, Chris Doyle (Tommy Black 67)
Booked: Akers 64
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Steve Book, Adam Faux, Alex Faux, Mike Booth, Nathan Rudge, Tom Gardner, Colin Marshall, Mike Humphreys, Adam Mortimore, Mark Saunders, Elliott Frear
Goals: Saunders 35, Marshall 73 (pen)
Booked: Humphreys 62, Marshall 75
Sent off: None

Attendance: 178

This report ©2009 Alan Reidy