Match report

Hungerford Town 1 - 0 Tiverton Town

   Tuesday 11/10/2011   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

Tiverton returned from their rearranged midweek trip to league leaders Hungerford with their undefeated streak broken but their pride well and truly intact, just a single goal enough to separate two sides who both gave it everything in a frantic ninety minutes of action. The momentum swung to and fro and to again and it was the home side that made their spell of dominance count when skipper Matt Day powerfully headed home a corner shortly after the break. Tivvy ploughed forward late on but there was no way through, leaving Hungerford still undefeated in league action this season, while Tiverton missed the chance to leap towards the playoff places.

The game started and a high pace and that was maintained throughout, although the initial explorations seemed to catch Hungerford a little cold as the Yellows poured forward from the first whistle, pinning their hosts back in a similar manner to how they dominated Bridgwater a few days earlier. Before Hungerford had even been allowed to get into their stride and settle into the game Ian Sampson single-handedly penetrated between the central defensive pairing of Day and Jon Boardman, but having wriggled his way into the area Sampson was denied as home ’keeper Stuart Wood rushed forward to narrow the angle and block the shot.

For ten or fifteen minutes there was only one side in the match, with Chris Wright spectating from afar for the most part as his team-mates ahead kept possession on a bobbly pitch, stretched play, but found Hungerford’s defence in stingy form when the Yellows had reached firing range. Indeed it is a massive credit to Hungerford that, other than Sampson’s seventh minute attempt, the only other shot Tivvy mustered in the first half was a grass-cutter from Michael Nardiello after half an hour.

By that stage the tide had turned dramatically as the home midfield had woken up, and the width offered on the right by Nicholas Ogbanufe was becoming an increasing concern for the Yellows.. It was he who smacked a shot onto the outside of Wright’s left upright after the Tivvy shotstopper had fumbled, and when Hungerford switched flanks for a chance of trajectory Day was afforded space to push forward like those fabulous German sweepers of the past but shot a long way wide. By the end of the first half Tivvy were holding on gallantly under increasing pressure; Wright saved well from Mark Draycott, Luke Brewer’s effort from outside the box flew agonisingly over, and Ogbanufe sliced an effort when well placed following a mistake in midfield by Harry Nodwell.

Tiverton’s undoing may well have been their profligacy early in the game, but not helping the cause was a pair of injuries picked up in the first half. Liam Ellis pulled up and was replaced by Nodwell with five minutes to play before the break, and at around the same time Joe Bushin was forced to call it a day when he appeared to have his foot accidentally trodden on, so the Yellows had to restructure their system at the start of the second half. Sampson dropped into the full-back position vacated by Ellis, while Russell Jee took over from Bushin, leaving Nardiello as a lone striker with Nodwell and Josh Searle in support. And amid the disruption Hungerford took the lead when Nodwell chased back to conceded a corner and Day roamed forward to meet the left-sided cross and hammer the ball past Wright.

Moments later Luke Hopper wasted a header, missing the target after Jon Wheeldon had crossed deep from the right flank, and Wright made a fine save from Ogbanufe as the winger cut in from his touchline and drilled a cross-shot low towards goal. And then the momentum swung again and for the final thirty minutes Tiverton were once again on the front foot, albeit not as clinically as we have become accustomed. The Yellows employed an increasingly direct approach, happily playing the ball into space towards the corners for Nodwell in particular to race onto, or high towards the edge of the penalty area, a ploy that played perfectly into the hands of the impressive Day and Boardman who were gobbling up everything in the air.

Nardiello shot wide having picked up on Alex Faux’s through ball, and with fifteen minutes remaining Jules Emati-Emati, on for the tiring Mark Saunders, was inches away from turning in Nodwell’s cross at the back stick. Another cross from Nodwell saw Wheeldon slice a clearance a matter of inches the wrong side of the post, and Jee combined with Nardiello to tee up Sampson, only for the winger to shoot over from twenty yards.

Time was running out and so were Tiverton’s ideas. There simply wasn’t any way past a stoic and perfectly organised Hungerford defence, and when the home side made a mistake – Wood fumbled a routine save from Searle, Wheeldon was on hand to ram the ball away from danger. Draycott had a final chance to seal the points as he moved onto a long clearance with Tivvy having committed men forward but his shot under pressure from Paul Kendall skimmed across the face of goal and just the wrong side of the post, meaning that just for a change the former Didcot, Cirencester and Swindon Supermarine striker failed to find the net against Tiverton.

Hungerford Town: Stuart Wood, Jon Wheeldon, Scott Davis, Jon Noardman, Matt Day, Luke Brewer, Carl Self, Jamie Gosling (Tom Fila 71), Luke Hopper (Youssef Bamba 82), Mark Draycott, Nicholas Ogbanufe
Goal: Day 52
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Alex Faux, Liam Ellis (Harry Nodwell 43), Kevin Hill, Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, Josh Searle, Mark Saunders (Jules Emati-Emati 66), Michael Nardiello, Joe Bushin (Russell Jee 46), Ian Sampson
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Attendance: 100

This report ©2011 Alan Reidy