Match report

Taunton Town 0 - 2 Tiverton Town

   Friday 13/01/2012   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

Woeful. Gutless. Awful. Three words that could be used to describe Tiverton Town over the past half a decade but words aimed by Taunton supporters at their own team as the Peacocks delivered a heartless display on their own patch that must have left Paul West, once the lifeblood of the club on the pitch, ripping his hair out at the roots. In a perfect contrast to Taunton teams of yesteryear when they would battle as if their lives depended on it the current crop at Wordsworth Drive showed little fight, even less quality and surrendered meekly to a Tivvy team who barely had to advance beyond second gear to collect three points and move eleven points clear of their old adversaries. A beautifully crafted own goal in the first minute, converted by the wholly hapless George Painter, and a second half side-footer from David Steele was enough to separate the sides on the scoreboard, but the gap was cavernous in every other regard and it speaks volumes that Taunton’s best player by some margin was an ageing goalkeeper who enjoyed his best days in the game playing and usually winning at Ladysmead.

For Tiverton there was seldom a need for urgency as, having been gifted the first goal with just forty-five seconds on the clock, it was soon clear that the Yellows would be able to go through the motions with little threat to their own goal, and while Tivvy didn’t play particularly well they were still plenty good enough to brush past a Taunton side so ravaged by suspensions and so lacking in desire. Tivvy’s team was just about as expected and the only question was how to fit into the side Kevin Hill, Danny Clay and the in-form David Steele. The answer was to leave Hill on the bench and allow him to rest his legs for the evening in the knowledge that he would come back into the team on Wednesday when Clay commenced a three-match suspension. Michael Nardiello and Joe Bushin began the game up front but neither of them had touched the ball by the time the deadlock was broken as Tiverton were awarded an early free kick way out on the left wing which Alex Faux pumped into the Taunton penalty area. Paul Kendall threw himself upward to meet the ball and nodded it closer to the danger area and Painter, bless him, did what all poor defenders would have done and rather than listening to the call of his goalkeeper or heading away from goal he decided it would be a smart idea to help the ball into veteran Paul Edwards’ arms. But Eddie, already massively popular with the Tivvy supporters after a spell that traversed the previous and current millennia, went even higher in the hearts and minds of the Gold Army when he was caught off-guard and Painter’s header bobbled amusingly beyond his right hand and into the net.

A perfect start for Tiverton was followed by a first half that was generally a non-event, at least in terms of goalscoring opportunities. Nardiello had a half-chance after quarter of an hour as Edwards had punched away an Andy Taylor corner and the ball was fed back into the box, but Nards swung and kicked only air. Ten clicks later Bushin suffered a similar fate, this time the ball squeezing between the striker’s legs at the far post following another corner from Taylor that was neatly flicked onwards by Steele, and just beyond the half-hour mark Edwards did well to throw himself forward and cut out a teasing cross from Concanen that would otherwise have been easy picking for Nardiello who was lurking with not a pale blue shirt in sight. That latter chance, if one can describe it as such, came from a typical Tiverton move with Concanen, a revelation and my personal man-of-the-match showing fine acceleration as he cut inside and drifted beyond his marker before playing a tidy one-two with Taylor which set up the opportunity to deliver the ball into the box. The Tivvy right-back was largely free from defensive duties and pressed forward at every opportunity, seldom wasting possession and unfortunately on occasions not receiving the pass that his efforts deserved, particularly in the second half. Supporters of a certain vintage from both Tiverton and Taunton will remember the other Paul Edwards, the little-legged wide-man, racing forward in a similar manner both at the Drive and the ‘Mead in the mid nineties and Concanen’s efforts and such a praiseworthy comparison are fully merited.

Taunton did less than little in a first half that had begun frantically and quickly faded, not into a midfield battle as such but into a game dictated by the Yellows, possession and tempo under control, and only twice did I turn to my notepad before deciding to scrimp on ink as the home side ventured on rare occasions into the Tivvy half of the pitch. One long-range effort that ended up nowhere near the target, or perhaps it was a hopelessly weighted through ball from deep, it was difficult to tell such was the lack of aptitude for the game shown by the Somerset team, and another through ball that forced Chris Wright to scamper out of his box only to come up short, and then scamper back into his box in good time to see a cross from the right wing easily headed away by Kendall. My word, this isn’t what to expect from Taunton in a fixture that once boiled the blood, and so poor were they that Peter Knox, who played one game for Tivvy in the summer schedule, had had enough and hobbled out of the action after just seventeen minutes to be replaced by the anonymous Simon Stone.

Into the second half Tiverton strolled and there was little more threat to their advantage as Taunton continued to labour like a club thankful that Stourport are even more useless so there is no danger of relegation back to play the likes of Manor Farm and Melksham. It took the Peacocks until the eighty-fourth minute to finally get a taste of Wright’s glove rubber, and even then it is debatable whether the save the Tiverton custodian made was from a cross or shot by Jamie Short. Either way Wright parried the ball out and Simon Ingram blazed the follow-up half way to the town centre, high over the crossbar and into the clear and chilly night sky. That ended a spell of the game where Taunton had enjoyed their most possession without ever really doing much with the ball other than giving it away again, but by this stage Tiverton were in cruise control, two goals up and having fun. David Steele had more or less settled the tie ten minutes into the second half by finishing off a move that he had started in midfield with a penetrating run, an exchange of passes as the move incorporated Taylor and Nardiello, and an initial shot that bobbled around with the huffing, puffing and tired Owen Irish unable to clear. Steele’s eventual decisive shot was a placed effort into the bottom corner beyond Edwards and his celebration was that of a man brought up with Yellow running through his veins. His old man had played in some of those epic battles against Taunton in the previous century and looked on from the dugout with a smile beaming with pride; Steele the Younger, arms aloft, lapped up the adulation from the terrace behind the goal as the net rippled and the majority of the crowd groaned in disillusionment.

Eddie made an excellent save to keep the score down when Bushin unleashed a spectacular volley from well outside the area, and as the game approached its finale the ’keeper with the Wembley-inked backside did well again to save from Nardiello and then looked on as Irish somehow managed to scramble the ball to safety under close scrutiny from Bushin. Nards had another chance when he drifted into space through the inside-right channel and was picked out by a beautiful piercing diagonal pass from Josh Searle but having cut back inside his shot drifted a foot or two wide of the post, and Tiverton saw out time by keeping hold of the ball, Clay always offering an option deep in the midfield and controlling the pace with which the Yellows played the match.

And so it ended thus, two goals to nil to the visitors, noise and song from the away fans, curious silence throughout from the home supporters who, in fairness, had absolutely nothing to get excited about all night. The Tivvy players found time not only after the final whistle to show their appreciation for the support, but while cruising to victory Nardiello, jostling in preparation for the delivery of another Taylor corner, even took a moment to orchestrate the choir behind the goal. That moment underlined just how easy it was for Tiverton and with the greatest will in the world (and I have very little good will when it comes to Taunton) we could still be playing a week later and it is unlikely Taunton would have had a decent shot on goal. The Yellows would be allowed to enjoy the moment but they will need to play better in the next match at Thatcham; Friday the thirteenth though was a lucky day when the opposition rolled over like a spaniel puppy enjoying a tummy rub.

Taunton Town: Paul Edwards, George Painter, Alex Rigley (Jamie Short 56), Tim Legg, Owen Irish, Jon Vance, Andy Butler, Peter Knox (Simon Stone 17), Raith Plant (Corey Lewis 64), Simon Ingram, Darren Rice
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Alex Faux, David Steele, Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, Andy Taylor, Danny Clay, Michael Nardiello (Jules Emati-Emati 90), Joe Bushin, Josh Searle
Goals: Painter 1og, Steele 54
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Attendance: 387

This report ©2012 Alan Reidy