Match report

Poole Town 0 - 0 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 17/12/2011   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

As winter finally arrived there was little to get excited about as Tiverton made their first ever trip to Poole. The cold was biting and neither the match nor the surroundings did much to warm the hearts and minds of the Yellows, a largely forgettable encounter ending in a stalemate and the main note on the pad was to highlight Josh Concanen’s first league start for Tivvy. There were a couple of good saves, one from each goalkeeper, but little creativity or inventiveness from either side on a slippery pitch, and some fussy officiating played a big part as the game, fragmented already, became rather niggly and threatened to wander beyond the bounds of acceptability. A point apiece was a fair enough reflection on the balance of a game fought between two teams buried in the middle of the stack; it would have been harsh for either side to lose purely due to the fact that neither Poole nor Tivvy showed enough inspiration to win. Don’t be mistaken, there was plenty of effort and endeavour from every player involved, it was just one of those days that wasn’t meant to be.

Concanen started on the right side of a defensive four in place of Liam Ellis and it was all change up top as Michael Nardiello and Jules Emati-Emati were recalled to the starting line-up in place of Joe Bushin and Harry Nodwell. The four times previously the pair had started a game together had seen Tiverton fail to score in three of them including goalless draws on the two most recent occasions, so perhaps the writing was on the wall by the time the team-sheet was handed to the referee, but such statistics are hollow in substance if not in truth, and the ninety minutes mostly devoid of goalmouth action was just as much the fault of the home side as it was the Tiverton strikeforce. Poole were a noticeably direct outfit with little craft beyond the technically sound Micky Hubbard, a throw-back to Tivvy sides in the middle part of the last decade where emphasis was very much on getting the ball forward quickly. At least Poole had a couple of wingers to provide an advanced outlet so didn’t have to rely on a lumbering centre-forward to hold up play, but it was rare that either Kevin Gill or Marvin Brooks found enough space to unsettle Concanen or Alex Faux; likewise the Yellows’ wide duo of Aaron Dawson and Josh Searle both struggled to find room against the generally deep lying red and white-clad full-backs

There were chances, most of them shots from distance that would have bothered the scorers only if one or other of the goalkeepers had fingers made of butter, and so cold was it in Dorset that even fingers of butter would probably have been robust enough. As early as the second minute Gill fired one in from well outside the area which was tipped around the post by Chris Wright, a solid save but far from sensational, and towards the end of the first half Poole finally mustered their second meaningful shot on goal, a free kick from Hubbard that was chipped feebly over the wall and harmlessly into Wright’s arms, the Tiverton goalkeeper not even needing to move his feet. It was a similar story when Tivvy were on the attack, and although they tried to be a little more inventive than their hosts there was equally as little end product. Searle’s low shot from the edge of the area, following some interplay from Dawson and Nardiello, didn’t particularly act as a test for Nick Hutchings in the Poole goal, and the most promising move of the half which saw Paul Kendall driving forward down the right wing as if we had suddenly entered a parallel universe where centre-backs were blessed with skill and poise and continental flair, ended only with a corner kick. From that set piece Tom Gardner was penalised for a foul as he stretched and cleanly won the ball, seemingly tripped himself in the process (by which I mean Gardner himself was tripped, not Gardner tripped himself), and the bewilderment as Poole were awarded a free kick was clear to hear from the Tivvy bench; frustration apparent visibly when Emati-Emati blocked an attempt to restart play from quarters too close and earned himself a yellow card. Poole striker Scott Joyce added his name to the referee’s little black book a few minutes later and the half-time whistle arrived, not to any rapturous applause for a game well played, but rather amid mutterings of lethargy.

Not borne out by results over the past couple of games (but lest we forget the games against Chesham, the game against Mangotsfield, and also against Aylesbury in the fog), what Tiverton do well is regroup and perform better in the second half. The stamina of the squad is not in question and better teams than Poole have struggled to hold on after the break, so it was no surprise that the Yellows had the better of the game following the change of ends. That said, Poole carved out – or were rather handed on a plate – the best chance of the game when Gardner fluffed a clearance, Carl Preston crossed and Joyce’s far post attempt was bravely smothered by Wright. Rhys Baggeridge and ex-Tivvy defender Michael Walker each had a clear sight at goal, the former after Wright had punched away Hubbard’s free kick and Gill had re-delivered the ball early, but Baggeridge volleyed wide, the latter from a free kick in a theoretically dangerous position that was hammered into the wall. Joyce put a shot into orbit following another mistake from the usually unflappable Gardner but Poole became frustrated with their own inability to penetrate, rather crudely summed up by Hutchings at the other end of the pitch who was waxing loud expletives at his own teammates, as if they needed their own incompetency highlighted across the dimpsy field

Dawson, switched to the left in the second half, seemed to be the obvious candidate to create something somehow, either for himself of one of his pals, as Tiverton increasingly dominated both possession and territory, but Poole played deep and swamped the space, and with the giant Walker happily nodding away anything that was delivered from the flanks there was the need for a change. In eleven second-half minutes the strikers had been replaced by the strikers they had replaced, Bushin and Nodwell now asking the questions, and Bushin finally gave Tivvy an aerial threat, only to find a lack of runners beyond him to latch onto his flicks. So maybe set pieces were the answer… Dawson’s corner was nodded twenty yards upfield by Baggeridge, Danny Clay was perfectly placed and swept in a low shot. Through a crowded area the ball squirmed, a very slight deflection off Bushin as it went, and Hutchings threw himself to his right to tip the ball around the post at the last moment. It was an excellent save, the best of the day from the best effort on goal of the day; the fact that the defending team came out on top summed up the game perfectly. Dawson shot over, Searle weakly at Hutchings and then Searle again, this time blocked. And so it ended goalless, but not before the oddest decision of many odd decisions from the referee when he showed Poole’s Sam Clarke a straight red card for what one can only assume the man in the middle deemed a dangerous challenge on Searle. Some said it was a yellow at worst, others just a free kick. I didn’t even think it was a foul!

Poole Town: Nick Hutchings, Sam Clarke, Pete Smith, Rhys Baggeridge, Michael Walker, Glenn Howes, Kevin Gill (Aaron Skelton 67), Micky Hubbard, Scott Joyce (Steve Smith 89), Carl Preston, Marvin Brooks
Booked: Joyce 38, Pete Smith 83, Brooks 84
Sent off: Clarke 90+2

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Alex Faux, Kevin Hill, Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, Aaron Dawson, Danny Clay, Michael Nardiello (Harry Nodwell 79), Jules Emati-Emati (Joe Bushin 68), Josh Searle
Booked: Emati-Emati 36, Searle 58, Clay 77
Sent off: None

Attendance: 243

This report ©2011 Alan Reidy