Match report

Wimborne Town 2 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 21/04/2012   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

On the five occasions I have seen Wimborne play against Tiverton the Dorset side has improved. Back in the autumn of 1997 Tivvy won 11-1, then a month or so later the difference was reduced markedly as Tivvy scraped through 4-0 in an FA Cup tie. Fast forward a decade and Tiverton edged another FA Cup fixture by a single goal, and then earlier this season in the first Southern League meeting between the sides honours were shared in a 1-1 draw at Ladysmead. It was therefore perhaps inevitable that the pattern would continue and Wimborne would finally put one over Tivvy, and they did just that at the Cuthbury, but not without making it hard for themselves.

Conditions were as good as possible for this time of the season, bobbles a part of the furniture in the Southern League in mid-April, and while there was a wind it wasn’t strong enough to cause too many problems, so Tiverton’s main issue was becoming accustomed to the sideways slope. Curiously quaint, a proper non-league pitch, yet infuriating at times as the ball zipped away down the hill and out for a throw-in all too often, particularly in favour of the more acclimatised hosts, Tivvy initially struggled but soon found their feet and their balance in order to take the game to the Magpies. For the best part of thirty minutes there was only ever one team that looked like creating, that looked like scoring, that looked like they wanted to try and play a little football and that was the team in yellow. So while it is true that Joe Bushin and Danny Clay laboured at times, their toils were outweighed by the exciting combination on the right of the Joshes – Concanen and Searle – while Jules Emati-Emati was what can only be described as an immense presence up front.

Big Jules is showing now why he became something of a cult-hero at both Dorchester and Weymouth, and his link-up play was tremendous – on the floor or in the air he was unflappable, using strength and skill to help Tivvy retain possession. But Jules’ one big problem is that he is not ruthless enough in front of goal, and he was guilty of spurning the best chance that fell to a Town player in the first half when he headed on target but without conviction and that little hesitancy allowed Bradley Magookin to steal in and clear the ball off the line.

That summed up Tiverton in the first half – decent in the advanced midfield areas but left wanting when it came to the crunch. Headers flew wide from Harry Nodwell after four minutes and Paul Kendall after nine; Josh Searle and David Steele both hit the target but without any real vigour and Wimborne goalkeeper Jason Harvell was easily able to open his afternoon with a couple of comfortable saves, a warming up that on reflection Tivvy would wish he had done without, such was his excellent form later in the game. Emati-Emati also put in a shot that Harvell saved above his head, sharp but still not fully extended, and Kendall glanced another header wide from a Concanen free kick as it became clear this wasn’t going to be our day.

The opening goal arrived at the end of what was only Wimborne’s second attack of any note, Chris Wright having smothered at the feet of George Webb seventeen minutes into the game after the home winger had wriggled his way through a congested defence. But Webb was not to be denied when a second opportunity arrived as he latched onto a clever lofted pass from Micky Hubbard, over the defence and perfectly in his stride, the low shot across Wright finding the bottom corner of the net. On balance it was a kick in the teeth for Tiverton but Wimborne had done everything asked of them to that point, weathered the storm, and capitalised when the opportunity arose. You can’t ask for more than that.

The Magpies settled after the goal and the balance swung half-circle with Tiverton now struggling to retain possession and Wimborne were denied a second goal – and what a goal it would have been – by the width of a post when Scott Arnold raced up the wing from his fullback position, played a swift one-two with Tom Jeffes, and then smacked his shot onto the post. Concanen was in place to hack the rebound behind for a corner and Tiverton held on until the interval, Magookin’s clearance aside very much a period Wimborne dominated.

There was little to choose between the sides after the resumption with chances at both ends. Searle had the ball in the net long after the lineman had flagged for a foul by Emati-Emati on Jordan Cole, Harvell then easily gathered in a weak shot by the same player, and at the other end Webb broke the offside trap but saw his fierce low shot parried by Wright with Kendall sweeping up the danger that followed. But from end-to-end excitement the game tended to peter out into a battle of attrition and a battle of acquiring the daftest caution. Danny Clay opened the book with a cynical foul of retribution on Webb after the Tivvy midfielder had played the tardiest of square passes, and Webb himself was the next to pick up a yellow for a less cynical yet more aggressive and poorly timed challenge on Nodwell.

There followed, thankfully, more football and less idiocy as Tiverton sought with all their might an equalising blow but the mighty Harvell was in tip-top form to tip over another header from Kendall, and the Tivvy captain knew his luck was out when yet another attempt was luckily deflected onto the crossbar and Steele’s follow-up was straight down the ’keeper’s throat. Even Michael Nardiello got in on the act just minutes after replacing the ineffectual Bushin and again Harvell was on hand to make the save, and remarkable still in place to block with his feet as the ball fell invitingly for Emati-Emati. Tivvy were rampant at this stage and on any other day could have led by five clear goals, but Harvell was inspirational with the gloves and his team still held the advantage.

And wouldn’t you know it, that advantage was doubled when Wimborne finally found their way towards the town end of the pitch and won a corner. The simplest of goals – cross in to the centre, just outside the goal area, Jeffes with time and space and a sidefoot volley that left Wright with no chance. Kendall held his hands up in apology but the damage had been done – Wimborne had scored from two of their five chances (another hit the post) and such clinical attacking play ultimately proved the difference between the sides.

Naturally Tiverton rallied again, not so much a change in the balance this time as a continuation of where we had been throughout the second half only with a different number showing on the scoreboard. Alex Faux and Andy Taylor came on, Steele further elevated his own standing on a good afternoon from a personal perspective (he and Jules were the shining Tivvy lights) when he nodded the ball neatly towards the penalty spot. Nardiello was there and held the ball up under pressure, just long enough for Emati-Emati to rush in and power the ball into the net, Harvell finally beaten.

There was ten minutes to salvage something and the Yellows gave everything. Tom Gardner saw a header that was looping in tipped over the bar and another header on target thwarted as the referee saw an infringement that must have been of minimal proportions. Kendall was in there, Faux forward and in the area, a goalmouth scramble with Steele, Jules and Nardiello all doing everything they could to somehow force the ball over the line. Wimborne were not to be moved and defended like heroes, each and every one of them ready to bleed for their stripes. It was truly thrilling in the end and the irresistible force and the immovable object collided, and Wimborne held on by the skin of their teeth, with all eleven men still on the pitch despite valid calls for a straight red against Jamal Bajandouh following a hideously late chop on Faux. But that one incident shouldn’t sour a game that was tremendous viewing from two sides with very contrasting tactics. Wimborne won and rightly so – they took their chances and defended magnificently; Tivvy lost but gave it everything from the first whistle to the last (bar a short spell after the first goal). This is what footy is all about; it would just be nice to win a few of these games!

Wimborne Town: Jason Harvell, Scott Arnold, Jordan Cole, Paul Roast (Brad Magookin 23), Shaun Brian, Tom Hill, George Webb (Jamal Bajandouh 75), Micky Hubbard, Tom Jeffes (Ben Mogg 88), Jon Blake, Jamie Davidson
Goals: Webb30, Jeffes 72
Booked: Webb 62, Jamal 81
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Russell Jee (Alex Faux 75), Harry Nodwell (Andy Taylor 75), Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, David Steele, Danny Clay, Josh Searle, Joe Bushin (Michael Nardiello 64), Jules Emati-Emati
Goal: Emati-Emati 80
Booked: Clay 59
Sent off: None

Attendance: 384

This report ©2012 Alan Reidy