Match report

Bideford 1 - 2 Tiverton Town

   Tuesday 31/01/2012   Devon St Luke's Cup
Nigel Davis

As is often the case in county cup ties, and the league cup for that matter, Tiverton use the occasions to blood up and coming reserve and youth team players. That was the case last Tuesday night and it was interesting to compare both line-ups to their previous encounter, in the league at the Sports Ground on January 2.

Ten of the fifteen Bideford players were in that squad, with Jack Furzer, James Richards and Ian Sampson starting both games. Jamie Mudge started the St Lukes whereas he had been the supersub in the league match, scoring Bideford's equaliser. Unused substitutes from the league encounter included in the St Lukes starting line-up were Richard Groves, Steve Orchard and Sam Sawyer, whilst those that played in that 1-1 league draw who were named as St Lukes subs were Matt Andrew, Nick Barker and Matt Bye. Aaron Harper-Penman, who played the full 90 minutes in the league game, was serving a one match suspension. So this was no reserve side, whatever Bideford might say. This was first team squad rotation. Add Paul Hider who is now their new goalkeeper, Craig Herrod who has made 20 appearances this term and Seb Broomfield, scorer of two league goals in September, there were just two unfamiliar names that started – Dan Cayford and Billy Hopcroft, the former Barnstaple Town striker. Even Cayford had recently featured, scoring at home to Clevedon in the league cup on January 10 on what appears to be his debut. You only have to flick through the match day programme which features colour photos and descriptions of each of the players to see how strong a squad Bideford used.

Tivvy’s squad of 16 had seven from the previous encounter with Liam Ellis, Josh Searle and Chris Wright starting both games and substitutes from the league game, Josh Concanen, Jules Emati-Emati and Tom Gardner also starting this cup match. Owen Howe was sub in both. For the St Lukes Tivvy started with three of the young reserves (Adam Kana-Ah, Liam Pike and Jessie Howe) and four of the five subs were from this side with just Paul Kendall boasting any first team experience on the bench. That meant no place for Adam Faux, Kevin Hill, David Steele, Andy Taylor, Joe Bushin and Mark Saunders. Harry Nodwell was still recovering from injury and Danny Clay was serving the last game of his three match suspension.
The game was played in a surreal atmosphere in front of a paltry 88 who braved this bitterly cold evening. The passion/aggression seen in the league encounter was missing, apart from a running battle between Russell Jee and Steve Orchard. Most of Bideford’s fire power came from the boots of Jamie Mudge and Ian Sampson who both adopted a shoot on sight policy. However, the number of times that Chris Wright was troubled could be counted on the fingers of one hand as many efforts went wide of the target. A combination of disciplined Tivvy defending, with Tom Gardner marshalling the inexperienced heads around him as well as playing a blinder, and a pitch that had not fully recovered from the Saturday encounter against Halesowen contributed to these misses. Indeed, Bideford did well to get the game on but only had time to replace divots and spread sand onto the wet patches and it did not take long for the turf to cut up.

Tivvy's performance was similarly affected, most notably Michael Nardiello and Josh Searle whose dribbling skills were a joy to behold yet the final touch was often wayward as the ball didn’t do what was expected on the tricky surface. They did, however, expose Bideford’s vulnerability to pace and got behind them on a number of occasions but to no avail, although Nardiello executed a deft lob in the third minute that left Paul Hider in nomansland, but the ball drifted wide of the target.
The breakthrough came just before the end of the first half when a sweeping move ended with Nardiello stroking the ball into Liam Ellis’ path. Without breaking stride he unleashed a thunderbolt that hit the back of the net via a deflection to put Tivvy ahead.

Bideford came out with renewed enthusiasm in the second half and swiftly added to their attacking options by replacing Billy Hopcroft with the prolific Matt Andrew, their leading scorer in the league, seven minutes after the break. Two minutes later came the first caution, a foul by Liam Pike on Craig Herrod. Seven minutes on Russell Jee joined him in the book when he upended Richard Groves in the box, Groves smashing the resultant penalty into the roof of the net to equalise.

Soon after Tom Tricker replaced Jessie Howe whose predator instinct in front of goal was curbed for the evening as he stuck to his task of tracking Craig Herrod throughout the game. With fresh legs, Tivvy went in search of another goal and Ellis thought he had scored his second of the night on 69 minutes only for Dan Cayford to pop up on the goalline to head the ball out from under the crossbar. A couple of minutes later he unleashed another stinging shot that Hider did well to parry. Ed Plackett then joined the fray, taking over from Pike and it was a searching ball out of defence which Jules Emati-Emati rose to nod into Nardiello’s path that set up what proved to be the winner. His marker slipped as he turned, allowing Tivvy’s leading scorer to draw Hider out before slotting the ball calmly past him in the 76th minute.

Soon after Owen Howe replaced Nardiello and that was about it for the action, apart from Jules Emati-Emati seeing his shot headed off the line by the impressive Cayford with three miutes to go. Moments beforehand Bideford’s frustration simmered to the boil when Orchard bundled Jee over and Jack Furzer swore once too much for the referee’s liking, both incidents earning them cautions.

This stretches Tivvy's unbeaten run to ten games in all competitions, form not seen since the heady days of spring 2001 when ten league games were crammed into just 18 days. That run propelled Tivvy into the Southern League Premier Division and two promotions away from the Football League as, in those days, the Football Conference was just one division until the formation of the North and South in 2004. It was even more ironic for Bilston, whom Tiverton pipped for promotion, as the final victory was at their local rivals Blakenall (five miles away on the other side of the M5).

That run gleaned 26 points during the hectic finale to a mesmerising season which saw just two reversals in the final 20 games. This season's run is definitely one to savour as it has shown the strength in depth within the Tivvy hierarchy. Let's hope that more people come through the turnstiles to witness this amazing turnaround from the turmoil of recent seasons.

Bideford (Red):- 1 Paul Hider, 2 Jack Furzer, 3 James Richards, 4 Steve Orchard (captain), 5 Sam Sawyer, 6 Dan Cayford, 7 Ian Sampson (15 Seb Broomfield, 80 mins), 8 Richard Groves, 9 Jamie Mudge, 10 Billy Hopcroft (14 Matt Andrew, 52 mins), 11 Craig Herrod
Substitutes (unused):- 12 Matt Bye, 16 Nick Barker
Goals: 8 Richard Groves 62 (pen)
Yellow Cards:- 4 Steve Orchard (85 mins), 2 Jack Furzer (86 mins)
Red Cards:- none

Tiverton Town (Yellow): 1 Chris Wright, 2 Josh Concanen, 3 Adam Kana-Ah, 4 Russell Jee, 5 Liam Pike (15 Ed Plackett, 73 mins), 6 Tom Gardner (captain), 7 Josh Searle, 8 Liam Ellis, 9 Michael Nardiello (14 Owen Howe, 82 mins), 10 Jules Emati-Emati, 11 Jessie Howe (12 Tom Tricker, 66 mins)
Substitutes (unused):- 16 Darren Goff, 17 Paul Kendall
Goals: 8 Liam Ellis (42 mins), 9 Michael Nardiello (76 mins)
Yellow Cards:- 5 Liam Pike (54 mins), 4 Russell Jee (61 mins)
Red Cards:- none

This report ©2012 Nigel Davis