Match report

Didcot Town 1 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 13/02/2010   Southern League Premier Division
Alan Reidy

If Didcot Town supporters weren’t so busy scratching their heads and wonder why their own bar prices were so disgustingly expensive they would probably be wondering whether there was anything Steve Book couldn’t do. He may not be great at sleight-of-hand card trickery, and he certainly doesn’t have as many top honours as his father, but when Didcot visited Ladysmead earlier this season he did manage to score a perfectly good goal. The fact that that goal was ruled out for a non-existent infringement is only a minor detail! In the return match Book was the main protagonist again, this time in a far more orthodox role as he jumped and flew and spread himself and contorted in all manner of ways to keep Didcot out. So effective was his performance that it required one of his own players to find a way through. Unfortunately for the Yellows Lee Collier was the unlucky one and marked his full debut with a goal at the wrong end.

Didcot reminded me a lot of Banbury – quick up front but remarkably sterile in midfield. Michael Alexis, who began the season at Oxford City, started the game brightly in a central role but faded rapidly after a handful of useful touches. Alongside him former Yate midfielder Alex Stanley was almost conspicuous by his absence, meriting just a single mention on my notepad. The one difference between Banbury and Didcot was the wide players, and Phillip John was markedly Diddy’s stand-out player throughout the afternoon, and would also play a major part in the one talking point of an otherwise low-key afternoon.

John skipped and danced across the face of the Tivvy defence early on but eventually shot into the wasteland behind the goal, and soon thereafter forced Mike Booth to deflect his cross behind for a corner to bring to an end a sweeping Didcot move. Genuine openings were few and far between so Mark Draycott tried to create one himself with a dive in the area that, for reasons that can only be explained by the referee, didn’t warrant a yellow card.

Stanley’s one act was to shoot across the face of goal and wide, a real defensive midfielder’s finish, but two minutes later he would be ruing his inability as Tiverton forged ahead with their first and only effort on target. Michael Bartley was seemingly injured as Tivvy broke up a Didcot attack; the Railwaymen won the ball back and Bartley began to get to his feet as his teammates quickly pressed forward. But Mike Booth tackled and set the Yellows back on their way down the left wing. With the Didcot threat now fully averted Bartley tried to play dead again, the referee looked twice and probably laughed inside. Meanwhile Elliott Frear was away, scooped in a high cross towards the penalty spot, and Mark Saunders rushed in to plant the firmest of headers past Matthew Trott. The locals were livid; Bartley took a quick squeeze of magic sponge and was miraculously fit to go.

The consensus amongst Didcot supporters after the game was that Tivvy were there for the taking. That may have been so had they been able to hit a barn door with a banjo. As it happened all they could do was aim shot after shot into the approximate vicinity of the stupendously efficient Steve Book. Martin Brown after 47 minutes, Ian Sampson moments later, and then the fully recovered Bartley five minutes further on. Book could only be beaten by accident, and that came when John, out hero of the hour crossed for villain of the hour Bartley. A hint of a deflection (some have suggested from Bartley’s hand) wrong footed Collier just enough for the unfortunate midfielder to guide his headed clearance not behind but in.

John was later involved in an altercation with Adam Faux. The referee saw the second kick out but not the first, and as any referee will tell you, you can only give what you see. Adam walked, John was booked for mouthing off, and Didcot played the final fifteen minutes with a man over. It didn’t do them much good; that man John skied a couple, Sampson was harshly cautioned for a 50/50 challenge with Book, and the game remained a tie.


Didcot Town: Matthew Trott, Ian Sampson, Jordan Tabor, Andrew Williams, Martin Brown (James Mortimer-Jones 50), Alex Stanley, Philip John, Michael Alexis, Michael Bartley (Josh Dutton-Black 59), Mark Draycott, Jamie Heapy
Goals: Collier (own goal) 59
Booked: Williams 79, Sampson 90
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Steve Book, Jake Wannell (Adam Faux 19), Alex Faux, Mike Booth, Nathan Rudge, Tom Gardner, Lee Collier, Colin Marshall, Joe Bushin (Sam Malsom 80), Mark Saunders, Elliott Frear (Adam Mortimer 69)
Goals: Saunders 36
Booked: None
Sent off: Adam Faux 67

Attendance: 171


This report ©2010 Alan Reidy