Match report

Sholing 3 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 03/12/2011   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

Sholing manager Dave Diaper was particularly complimentary after he had seen his side take all three points and move to the top of the league table, claiming that Tiverton offered the sternest test Sholing had faced this season, and going on to predict that the Yellows were a playoff-qualifying team clearly moving in the right direction. Such plaudits are easy to throw around when you are Dave Diaper, of course, and he had not long since witnessed perhaps one of the finest goals he will ever see at this level of non-league football. His side had been in control of the match without ever dominating long before Lee Wort had fired in Sholing’s third of the game from thirty-five yards or more, but the Division’s top goalscorer certainly iced the cake and there was little anybody could do other than applaud such a wonderful strike, a shot that left even Mark Saunders in the visitor’s dugout nodding and clapping in appreciation.

For Tiverton it was always going to be a tough afternoon as the Yellows looked to bounce back from the disappointment of elimination from the FA Trophy the previous weekend, and with midfield lynchpin Kevin Hill serving a one-match suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards David Steele won the right to slot into the vacated central berth alongside Danny Clay. The only other change in personnel saw Alex Faux relegated to the bench and Liam Ellis move to left back with Aaron Dawson on the right side of defence. Andy Taylor then switched from the role he played just off the lone striker against Supermarine to the right of midfield and Joe Bushin partnered Michael Nardiello in a two-pronged attack.

Bushin’s inclusion may have given Tiverton the option of a more direct approach such is his ability in the air, but this threat was soon nullified when he found himself up against the giant centre-back pairing of Dave Marden and Lee Bright, defenders who between them accounted for close to thirteen feet of mankind, so Tivvy quickly settled into a controlled game on the green stuff and twice in the first fifteen minutes worked their way into shooting positions. Early in the game Dawson drove forward from the back, jiggled into the area and eventually teed up Taylor but the newcomers shot went just over Mike Hookway’s crossbar, and Clay’s low shot sailed agonisingly wide after Bright had only got half the required purchase on Taylor’s corner. The signs were encouraging for the Yellows at one end of the pitch but there was certainly a need for caution at the other when the massive Marden nodded over from Tyronne Bowers’ corner just four minutes into the match, and not long after Wort wrestled beyond Tom Gardner and set up Barry Mason for a shot that skimmed across the face of goal and eventually out for a goal kick.

Wort was looking like a handful and his turn of pace was causing Gardner plenty of problems; he skinned the Tivvy captain again later but this time his final delivery was lacking, but by that stage Sholing had edged into the lead. Wright backpedalled to palm away a high ball, while at the same time Paul Kendall crashed into the goalpost, leaving the Tiverton defender requiring attention to a bloody nose, and while he was out of the action another corner combination involving Bowers and Marden resulted in a scramble in the goal area and finally Kevin Gibbens smashing the ball into the net from close range. One might, from a Yellow perspective, bemoan the fact that Kendall was not on the pitch and able to help defend the corner but the truth is it was Tiverton’s inability to deal with Marden’s presence (without the help of a trampoline or stepladder) that was the determining factor in the opening goal of the game.

Sholing, by no means as clinical a team as the likes of Bideford, clearly had a game-plan of whipping in early crosses, particularly when left-back Marc Diaper was afforded the luxury of pressing forward, and Tivvy dealt well with this direct approach for much of the game and for the second half of the first half it was the Yellows that again carved out the better opportunities. Bushin looped in a header that was comfortably claimed by Hookway ten minutes before the interval, Josh Searle, fed by Nardiello, cut in from the left but was off target with a shot from the edge of the area, and from the most flowing move of the opening forty-five minutes, a move that involved Dawson, Taylor and Clay, again a shot came in from Searle, this time forcing Hookway into a decent save.

In the second half the hosts showed less insistence on pumping in early crosses, and gradually exerted their authority on proceedings, although it took the best part of twenty minutes for their superiority to tell. Mike Carter’s shot from distance never really threatened, but Bowers, having played a neat one-two with Gibbens, brought out an excellent save from Wright, and Tiverton were generally left to feed off scraps, the closest they came to drawing level being when Marden almost beat his own goalkeeper with a backwards header on the hour mark. But just after the hour a clever move down the right opened up the field and the brothers Mason combined, Byron clipping the ball into Barry and the latter’s low shot across the goalkeeper finding the bottom corner of the net.

From this point the game swung again with Tivvy enjoying far more possession and keeping the ball comfortably. The irony of the Yellows’ supporters crying out for the ball to be pumped forward wasn’t lost – just a couple of years ago Martyn Rogers’ direct tactics were bemoaned and one wondered why Town even bothered with midfielders – and although the current circumstances dictated that the strikers needed feeding, the work that Clay in particular, along with Taylor and Dawson were doing in the midfield areas was certainly frustrating the home side as the puffed and panted and chased around, each time a fraction late to intercept the latest pass. Tivvy probed from deep, carefully moving about the Sholing formation as the sought the pass that would make a difference, and after an extended spell of possession, and with the home defence forced deep, Dawson found a bit of space in the centre to fire in a shot. And that shot looped and moved in the air, over Hookway and into the net. Patience, they say, is a virtue, and for Tiverton the reward had been gained. They were still trailing, however, and needed to do it all again.

A similar sequence, with Tivvy retaining their focus and composure despite running out of time, saw Dawson get in another shot, but this time Hookway wasn’t troubled as the ball sailed high and harmlessly over his bar, and with just five minutes left on the clock Sholing put the game to bed. A Town attack broke down and the ball was pelted upfield towards the half way line. Kendall lost his footing only slightly but enough to allow Wort to break free through the middle, and having sprinted twenty yards or so with the ball and with both Kendall and Gardner chasing back in his wake Wort simply pulled the trigger and let one go. The technique was perfect, the trajectory of the ball exemplary, Wright’s dive high to his right a photographers dream, and in vain as Wort’s shot was still rising as it passed clearly beyond the Tivvy ’keeper’s outstretched hand and pummelled into the net having barely snuck beneath the crossbar and inside the post. Saunders applauded as did just about everyone else in the ground, supporters of both colours, suits and substitutes from both clubs. And Wort deserved the plaudits and for that goal alone Sholing deserved the points, points that were thereafter never under threat as they saw out the final few minutes comfortably.


Sholing: Mike Hookway, Mike Carter, Marc Diaper, Dave Marden, Lee Bright, Tyronne Bowers, Barry Mason (Jack McCarthy 83), Byron Mason (Nick Watts 76), Kevin Gibbens, Lee Wort, Marvin McLean
Goals: Gibbens 27, Barry Mason 63, Wort 85
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Aaron Dawson, Liam Ellis (Alex Faux 61), David Steele (Josh Concanen 73), Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, Andy Taylor, Danny Clay, Michael Nardiello, Joe Bushin, Josh Searle (Harry Nodwell 73)
Goal: Dawson 80
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Attendance: 152


This report ©2011 Alan Reidy