Match report

Paulton Rovers 2 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Tuesday 23/08/2011   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

Despite the scoreline suggesting a narrow defeat, the Tiverton Town management duo of Mark Saunders and Hedley Steele were left fuming at their side’s performance, a showing that lacked coherence from the first whistle to the last, and one that could have proven to see a far more humbling final result had it not been for profligacy in the final third. Saunders had been pleased with the showings at Gosport, and then also against Taunton despite the result, but was left to wonder whether it was the same set of players that delivered such a woeful game at Winterfield Road.

The game was barely four minutes old when Paulton wasted their first great chance of the evening, by which time Tivvy had barely seen the ball. Livewire winger Ben Lacey ran at the Yellows’ defence, rode one challenge and was tripped by the second as Ian Sampson carelessly stuck out a leg in the area. Fortunately the nightmare start for Tivvy was put on hold when Dan Cleverley blasted the resultant penalty well over Ryan Draper’s crossbar, but even by that early stage the writing was on the wall.

Inside twenty minutes Ben Cleverley had already emulated his brother, albeit from open play, when he rounded off a good move with another shot which was too high, and then a disturbing case of déjà-vu followed when Jamie Taylor was fouled on the left edge of the area in a position identical to that which saw Taunton score seven days earlier. For Jon Vance see Craig Loxton, the former Clevedon midfielder stepping up to curl a perfect free kick into the far corner of the net in a carbon copy of Taunton’s goal at Ladysmead, Draper again left watching and helpless, with questions being asked about his positioning and Tiverton’s decision not to place a defender on the far post.

Town had only one meaningful chance in the first half, or rather a double-chance but Kyle Phillips saved low to his right to bat Michael Nardiello’s low shot away, and Sampson was unable to convert the rebound as the Paulton ’keeper regained his bearings quickly and narrowed the angle. Otherwise there was little to enthuse the travelling supporters, nor the Tiverton coaching staff who were easy to hear venting during the half-time interval.

The pattern didn’t chance despite the introduction of Ryan Turner early in the second half, and Draper went a long way to redeeming himself with a pair of superb saves, the first when Scott Brice met a left-sided corner and Draper flew to his left to claw the ball miraculously away from point blank range, and then moments later the Tivvy goalkeeper went one better with a save of the highest order to keep out Dan Cleverley’s superb far-post volley. But with twenty minutes still to play Rovers all but sealed the points with their second goal of the evening, a direct move out of the Sheffield United book of tactics – long ball from the goalkeeper (Kyle Phillips), flick-on from the tall forward (Dan Cleverley), and a consummate finish having stolen in behind the defence by the pacy forward (Jamie Taylor).

Tiverton’s response was to introduce Jules Emati-Emati, and to a degree the visitors improved dramatically. The original 4-4-2 was abandoned for a 3-4-3 system, and in the closing stages Tom Gardner was also sent forward so Tiverton lined up in a rather topsy-turvy 2-4-4 formation. By now Paulton were happy to run the clock down, understandable as they had more or less completed their task and the action generally switched towards their own half of the pitch. However, it was congested with most of the 22 players (somewhat surprising considering the referee’s tendency to wave about his yellow card earlier in the game) so Tivvy struggled to make anything of the territorial advantage they had gained. There was a breakthrough late in the evening though as Turner quickly took a free kick on the right as Rovers debated the decision, and Joe Bushin was alert enough to gather up the ball and hammer a shot past Phillips. And with tails finally up the Yellows poured forward in a fractured and desperate manner, but a late curling chip by Gardner from the edge of the area sailed just wide with Phillips in control. An equaliser would have been a gross injustice; Tiverton were not good enough.

Paulton Rovers: Kyle Phillips, Raiff Gwinnett, Jack Allward, Mick Dunn, Marcus Mapstone, Scott Brice, Ben Cleverley (Steve Bridges 84), Craig Loxton, Jamie Taylor (Josh Jeffries 78), Dan Cleverley, Ben Lacey
Goals: Loxton 20, Taylor 68
Booked: Brice 18, Dan Cleverley 21, Gwinnett 55, Taylor 66
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Ryan Draper, Ian Sampson, Alex Faux (Jules Emati-Emati 70), Kevin Hill, Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, Chris Onoufriou (Ryan Turner 52), Harry Nodwell, Michael Nardiello, Joe Bushin, Josh Searle
Goal: Bushin 87
Booked: Turner 68
Sent off: None

Attendance: 189

This report ©2011 Alan Reidy