Match report

Farnborough 2 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 30/01/2010   Southern League Premier Division
Alan Reidy

Time travel back a decade and a half and it would be alien to think that Tiverton Town would enter into a match so concerned with the threat of the opposition that drastic changes would be made to both the personnel and the system. Fifteen years ago Tiverton travelled to Farnborough and blitzed the Hampshire side with a five-star performance that left the Martians wondering which team was the Conference outfit and which was the Western League minnows.

Perhaps it was the exuberance of youth; Martyn Rogers was still in his managerial diapers back then and had yet to learn how to lose, mainly because such an outcome was so infrequent for Tivvy. And so the Yellows donned their white, Kevin Smith did his thing and ’Boro went out of the Cup. For Rogers that was game 182 and only a little more than a routine victory after a brief choke in the first game of the tie; Tiverton’s first Saturday away game of 2010 was game number 1,001 and the naïve boss of yesterday, a few greyer hairs, but still fully fledged up top was now the wise man of the house. After a run of four games without conceding a goal the boss knew too well that Farnborough’s three-pronged attack would require special treatment, and thus, despite coming into the game in good form, the pack was shuffled.

It meant that Joe Bushin was deployed as a lone striker, a role he had been forced to play earlier in the season in the FA Trophy debacle against Truro, and Tiverton’s top marksman ended up having to endure an afternoon that was fruitless as he barely saw the ball, and when he did gain possession the powerful pairing of Steve Robertson and Adam Doyle were onto him in a shot, closing down, tackling, thwarting and cleaning up.

The system Tiverton played wasn’t completely negative and the packed midfield did allow both Alex Faux on the left and Jake Wannell on the right to try and push forward, while Jamie Hatch was also afforded a freer role in the centre of the park, particularly in the early stages of the game. Hatch and Colin Marshall seem to be developing a good understanding and as both harbour defensive tendencies it is natural that they are able to play off each other and cover as one goes forward. Marshall was the first to push up and he met Elliott Frear’s deep cross and diverted a header back across the face of goal that ’Boro goalkeeper Stuart Robinson clawed out of the air spectacularly.

Next up it was the turn of Tom Gardner, forward for a free kick that Nathan Rudge pumped forward from the halfway line. Gardner had probably never scored an overhead kick in his life and Robinson saw to it that this record remained intact despite a perfect technique and a half decent effort from the centre back sent the ball goalwards from the edge of the area.

Tiverton, one up front, were the better team, and having scrambled away Farnborough’s first attack they promptly went up the other end and took the lead. Alex Faux was the architect. Fed down the left by Marshall (sitting deep) Alex skipped over Jamie Stevens’ challenge, crossed before Steve Robinson could tackle, and managed to stay upright to witness Hatch race in and divert the ball past Robinson the goalkeeper with knee or shin from all of six yards.

That was just what the old master wanted; the plot had worked, but maybe too early. If Rogers wanted a one-nil lead he would have much preferred it twelve minutes from the end rather than twelve minutes from the start. Still, it would be silly to complain, but Hatch was soon complaining when he was penalised for a block on Dean McDonald that gave the hosts a free kick on their left flank. Hatch belted the ball against the perimeter wall in dissent and saw yellow for his troubles.

It took Farnborough just eleven minutes to get back on level terms and the equalising goal came from the home side’s first meaningful attack. A couple of throw-ins on the right had helped gain the Yellows (that’s them not us) some crucial yards, and eventually Bradley Bubb managed to keep the ball in play and wriggle past Alex and hit the by-line. Bubb’s cross was one to write home about – pacey, outswinging and flighted accurately towards the near post, just asking to be dealt with. McDonald obliged dealing with it by glancing a fine header across the face of goal and into the far corner of the net. A quality goal, no doubt about it.

There was no dust to settle about Cherrywood Road but if there was it wouldn’t have had time as no sooner was the score level that Farnborough nosed ahead. This time there was nothing pure about the goal, just a howler on the part of Steve Book, usually so reliable with the ball at his feet. Rudge played the ball back into the area and Book took a swing. Whether it was too much draw or too much fade remains up for debate, but the ball skewed hopelessly forward, no more than 25 yards from goal. Darly McMahon was the best placed to pick up the pieces and did so with devastating effect, quickly gathering the ball under his control before ramming in back from whence it came, bottom corner, Book nowhere. Two-one.

Rogers didn’t blink, Tiverton remained stoic in the formation and Bushin remained lonely up front as the scraps he fed of became fewer and farer between. The home side pressed on so that it wasn’t rare to see 21 of the 22 players in the same half of the pitch. Bubb went on a dribble on the left before squaring the ball for former Tivvy striker Kezie Ibe to shoot straight at Book. Credit where it’s due, aside from the one mistake Book was impeccable and everything within his grasp stuck. Just one further shanked clearance that went out for a throw gave the home support any ammunition to belittle the man that is old enough to be their father.

To close the first half Marshall floated a shot well off target at one end and McMahon drilled a free kick that went through a fragmented wall and harmlessly into Book’s midriff. The free kick was won when Bubb got a fly in his eye having been comprehensively beaten in the air by Mike Booth. It was the only decision in the whole afternoon that the referee messed up, and ultimately it didn’t matter.

The second half can be more briefly summed up – McMahon sent a plethora of free kicks into the Tivvy defensive wall, finally found a way around them and missed the target by a foot or two, Tiverton rallied and gradually became more progressive, but the hosts were too strong defensively to allow their lead to slip.

The first stage in Tiverton’s re-emphasis on forward motion came ten minutes after the restart when Sam Malsom replaced Wannell, but Malsom still retained the general shape of the side, playing wide on the right, albeit with a more attacking mentality to Wannell. The striker on the wing showed plenty of willing and certainly gave Farnborough’s leftie Nic Ciardini a bit more to think about, but there was never the opportunity to really make the difference.

McDonald, meanwhile, was after a second goal and fired wide having played a brisk 1-2 with half time substitute Anthony Thomas, on for Bubb. Thomas failed to impress on the whole and it is clear to see why the ex-Hemel striker has been used predominantly as a substitute since his arrival in Hampshire. McDonald then bobbled in a low shot that somehow found its way through a sea of legs, but Rudge was at the far post and cleared at the last moment. Both McDonald and Rudge would later see yellow, the ’Boro player for supposedly not retreating at a free kick (which Booth deliberately fired into his back), Rudge for one of those handbags moments near the touchline.

Tivvy’s second and final change saw Adam Mortimer replace the ineffectual Frear, the big man sent to play, elbow and generally make a nuisance of himself amongst the Farnborough centre halves. ‘Badger’ won a header or two, flicked a lovely one on to Bushin (remember him?) which just so happened to be too wide to create a great deal of danger, but like the majority of his teammates never had a sight of goal.

Hatch did have another sight of goal, and his low shot forced Robbo the GK into a sharp save with his feet. The opening was created by Booth, undeniably Tiverton’s top performer of the afternoon as he skipped and danced his way through sliding challenge after sliding challenge. Booth had spent most of the match until that point making a fool of the Farnborough front line, drag backs, step overs, body swerves and other Brazilian tricks helping the Tivvy man out of tight situations in a manner that would have been more suitable in Brazil’s 1982 World Cup squad. Okay, he wasn’t quite up to Zico’s standard, but Booth had fun skinning a few Farny players!

Time had just about expired by now; the natives were becoming a little restless as their own team couldn’t wrap things up, and when Marshall was upended on the edge of the area by the otherwise quietly efficient Jack King Tiverton were gifted a chance to snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat. Marshall picked himself up, dusted himself down and swung the free kick over the wall… wide of Robinson’s right post. It was close, perhaps a foot or two, Robinson had slipped slightly on his way across, but the net rippled only when the ball struck it on the outside. That was the final hoorah and McDonald was replaced in added time by Simon Wormull, perhaps to collect his bottle of champers that he had earned for being awarded the Man of the Match prize.


Farnborough: Stuart Robinson, Jamie Stevens, Nic Ciardini, Jack King, Steve Robinson, Adam Doyle, Daryl McMahon, Gary Holloway, Kezie Ibe, Dean McDonald (Simon Wormull), Bradley Bubb (Anthony Thomas 46)
Goals: McDonald 23, McMahon 26
Booked: McDonald 70
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Steve Book, Jake Wannell (Sam Malsom 55), Colin Marshall, Mike Booth, Nathan Rudge, Tom Gardner, Jamie Hatch, Adam Faux, Joe Bushin, Alex Faux, Elliott Frear (Adam Mortimer 73)
Goals: Hatch 12
Booked: Hatch 14, Rudge 89
Sent off: None

Attendance: 747

This report ©2010 Alan Reidy