Match report

Tiverton Town 0 - 1 Didcot Town

   Tuesday 28/02/2012   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

Didcot Town can rightly be considered Tiverton’s nemesis as for the fifth time in five meetings they took points from a meeting between the pair and with it ended the Yellows twelve-match undefeated run. It was Didcot’s third win in three trips to Ladysmead and for the Railwaymen it meant they avoided recording three successive defeats for the first time this season. For Tivvy maybe defeat was on the cards; only the fact that Stourport were incredibly poor allowed Town to win at the weekend and towards the end of the unbeaten run the team had allowed some questionable performances to slip in, including in the non-competitive game against Willand and last month’s 1-1 draw at Thatcham.

Jules Emati-Emati was ruled out with a foot injury picked up at Stourport and would play no part, not even fit enough for the substitute’s bench, and certainly Tiverton missed him in the later stages of the game as they tried to force the matter and conjure up an equaliser against a rigid and determined Didcot defence, his place going to Joe Bushin. The only other change from the weekend saw Kevin Hill drop to the bench with David Steele slotting into the midfield alongside Danny Clay, but Steele’s impact on the game was negligible, his performance matched by more or less all of his team-mates.

For ten minutes it looked as if Tivvy might score a hatful as they stepped off their marks at a frantic rate of knots and pinned the visitors deep inside their own half. There was just seventeen seconds on the clock when Michael Nardiello raced in behind the Didcot defence to latch onto a ball over the top by Bushin and the final shot, bobbling and awkward but lacking conviction brought out a save lacking in confidence from Jon Henley. Minutes later Andy Taylor struck a shot well wide of the mark after Henley’s poor clearance and Bushin headed wide under pressure as Tivvy fullback Josh Concanen pressed forward with purpose on the right for the first time.

The momentum soon flitted away, however, and although Didcot offered very little in the way of attacking ingenuity they tightened up in defence and matched the Yellows in midfield, meaning the game became one of attrition rather than quality. Anaclet Odhiambo had the first and only real chance of the first half for the away side as he stole through to pick up on a threaded pass by Simeon Howell and brought from Chris Wright a low and solid save. There were further counter attacks that amounted to nothing, particularly down the Tiverton left side of the pitch, something that has been a bit of a trend in Tivvy games recently, but Alex Faux was usually on hand to thwart the danger, or Tom Gardner if the Diddy advances got that far.

For their workmanlike approach Didcot deserved some praise in the first half but Tiverton certainly had the better of things, even through they weren’t allowed to retain possession as comfortably as they would have liked, and even though their passing was some way short of the standards they had set for much of the season to date. Faux chased down heartily and won possession, Nardiello teed up Steele and Steele shot wide as the game approached the half-hour mark, and the Yellows once again found themselves well on top as the interval approached but couldn’t force Henley to save as twice shots sailed over the bar. The first from Concanen was difficult as he was closed down in the area but came from an exciting run made possibly by a stunningly clever pass from Paul Kendall; the second miss from Bushin was poor – Josh Searle, in a rare moment of quality on a poor evening by his own standards dribbled on the right and cut the ball back neatly, Bushin turned smartly inside and opened up space but then lifted his shot not only over Henley’s crossbar but also over the terrace roof at the Devco end of the ground.. Didcot probably couldn’t have complained had they been a couple of goals behind at the break but Tiverton’s poor finishing and lack of drive throughout the team beyond the bright opening spell saw to it that the game remained goalless after forty-five minutes.

There was little to pick between the two teams for the first half of the second half and again Henley didn’t need to use his gloves as the match stagnated into an unpretty affair. An early break from Nardiello was the only time Tiverton opened up the Didcot defence and there was very little wrong with Nardiello’s cross and even less wrong with Jamie Heapy’s crucial clearance as he nipped in, got his body in the way and deflected the ball from danger just at the moment Kendall was going to bundle the ball over the line from close range. Odihambo had the solitary Didcot chance of this period and watched as his sharp dipping volley wouldn’t dip quite fast enough to clear Wright and drop in below the bar.

The game changed significantly midway through the second period as Didcot finally managed to mount some sustained pressure. This led to a sequence of five corners, the second from the right and the others from the left. Tiverton’s defending was solid enough from the first two but the third was cleared only as far as Kevin Halliday who had taken the initial set piece. In Halliday cut, in came his shot and Wright palmed the ball away for corner number four. Again Tiverton defended desperately and Didcot striker Tom Mudge shot wide according to the referee but the linesman saw a deflection of some sort off a yellow shirt or leg and so Halliday had yet another chance to swing the ball left-footed into the danger area. Like corner number three the ball was once again scrambled back out to Halliday, again the left winger cut inside and shot and again Wright saved. This time, however, Wright’s save was batted down onto Gardner’s foot and before either could react the ball was on its way over the line and into the net.

Mark Saunders reacted by bringing himself on for a rare appearance in place of Nardiello and that alone game Tiverton more of a physical presence up front. For a forty-year old midfielder who had played just half an hour of football since mid-November Saunders didn’t look all that shabby in the advanced position and it was his nod-down from a long cross by Faux that gave Tiverton perhaps their best chance of the second half, a chance that ended in a corner kick as Taylor’s shot was deflected wide. Hill replaced Steele with time running out and promptly earned himself a yellow card, presumably for his protests towards the referee after a free kick had been given against him when Halliday smashed his face to pieces in the back of the Tiverton midfielder’s head. Off went Halliday, across the road to the hospital was a seriously inflamed eye socket and plenty of blood in tow, into the book went Saunders too as Tivvy’s frustration began to boil over, and beyond the annoying gamesmanship displayed by Didcot as they fought to hold onto their advantage they defended superbly well with Richard Pierson and Lee Henderson swallowing up everything that the Yellows could throw at them. Five minutes of added time garnered no reward; Hill had a half-chance on his wrong right foot that zoomed well over and Tiverton were a beaten team.


Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Alex Faux, David Steele (Kevin Hill 85), Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, Andy Taylor, Danny Clay, Michael Nardiello (Mark Saunders 72), Joe Bushin, Josh Searle
Booked: Taylor 34, Steele 45+1, Hill 88, Saunders 88
Sent off: None

Didcot Town: Jon Henley, Jamie Heapy, Alex Stanley, Lee Henderson, Richard Pierson, Sam Elkins, Steve Davis (Ryan Tappin 82), Simeon Howell, Tom Mudge, Anaclet Odhiambo, Kevin Halliday (Harry Halls 89)
Goal: Gardner 68og
Booked: Davis 31
Sent off: None

Attendance: 219


This report ©2012 Alan Reidy