The unofficial archives of Tiverton Town Football Club

Buckland Athletic 4 - 0 Tiverton Town

Wednesday 02/05/2012   Devon St Luke's Cup
Tivvy Archive

The day after the night before, and from the perspective of Tiverton Town supporters the shockwaves are barely buffered with time. Booth smiled as the curtain came down, the crowd were shocked, and the king was well and truly dead, shot to pieces on stage in a remarkable act of selfishness. In twenty devastating minutes Buckland Athletic tore through the Tiverton defence not once, not twice, but three times with consequences that would seep through the county and beyond, like a lion starved of raw meet for a week they were relentless in their attacks, like the original Booth on that evening in Ford’s Theatre they thought only of themselves…

The scene had been set but the performance delayed by six days as the heavens refused to close. Buckland had reached the final for the second year running and lined up to defend the crown they won a year ago following victories over Tavistock Association, Torquay United and Cullompton Rangers. Tivvy provided the opposition again without the knowledge that this time around they would be humiliated so strikingly, the Yellows through to the final thanks to wins against Barnstaple Town, Bideford and Plymouth Argyle.

Town manager Mark Saunders will no doubt be on the end of a lot of criticism with regards to his team selection, so before running through the events of the evening, allow me to present both sides of the argument:

i. A cup final and the opportunity to lift silverware shouldn’t be taken lightly. The team should be as strong as possible and the club should ensure it takes every step possible to win the game. After all, winning is a habit; it has been five years since Tiverton have won a trophy, and such an opportunity doesn’t arise too often. This is a chance we may not have again in the near future, and to show the club is taking it seriously, to prove to the boardroom and the supporters that they mean business, the only option is to field the strongest line-up possible. Anything less would be an insult.

ii. Tiverton have arrived at the final thanks to the efforts of a number of graduates from the Youth and Reserve teams. It has been their performances that have earned the Yellows’ place in the final, they have acquitted themselves marvellously thus far, and it is they who deserve the chance to play in the county showpiece. By dropping the young and inexperienced in favour of more established members of the squad sends out the wrong message both to the Youth Development and Reserve players at the club, as well as other potential recruits to the club in the future. On the other hand, sticking with the players that made it this far will show trust and the value of running a Reserve side, while also encouraging younger players and allowing them to see that they will get a chance if the perform well, regardless of their experience.

To a certain degree Saunders had his hand forced due to the initial postponement of the game; Tom Gardner was unavailable but would have been in the original squad, albeit probably on the bench, and Andy Taylor was unavailable due to work commitments. Danny Clay, Alex Faux and Chris Wright were all given the night off, Kevin Hill and Joe Bushin were only selected to fill the substitute’s bench, and Saunders stuck largely with the side that had won through in the last-four encounter against Plymouth. James Skinner came in on the right side of defence, a position foreign to him but not nearly as foreign as the left-back position is to Josh Concanen, while Liam Pike lined up alongside Paul Kendall. That gave the defensive four an average aged of around nineteen-and-a-bit in from of the veteran goalkeeper Ryan Draper, still eager and in truth fuming at the end of the night. The rest on the starting line-up was familiar enough even if it wasn’t what most would consider Tivvy’s strongest selection – college football earlier in the day had ruled out a few more names including the exciting Owen Howe, so the midfield was made up of Harry Nodwell, David Steele, Russell Jee and Josh Searle, while Michael Nardiello and Jules Emati-Emati started up front.

On the face of it this wasn’t a particularly weak Tiverton side but there is no accounting for all eleven of them having a poor evening, which is to take nothing away from Buckland who made hay while the sun briefly shone over South Devon before dipping spectacularly beneath the horizon. As the game raced into the second minute Skinner was exposed in a position he would not enjoy as Athletic attacked down their left with Danny Gaze and Simon Revell, the pair exchanging quick passes before Gaze crossed low to the centre of the goal area. Concanen came across to clear but smashed the ball straight at Chris Wright (of the Buckalnd variety), and if truth be told Wright probably didn’t know a great deal about it but did manage to divert the ball past the unexpectant Draper and into the net.

And that was that, tails up from the hosts, the pattern set, the writing on the wall. A year earlier Howe had given Tiverton an early lead but the Bucks went on to make a game of it and win on penalties; there was to be no mirror image this time. Buckland looked as if they could score at will and Liam Moseley perhaps should have found the net just two minutes later when he broke through onto a Revell through ball but sent his shot over with just Draper to beat. Tivvy were struggling to contain Moseley and Wright as they flitted around with movement more intelligent that their club’s league standing would suggest, and Kendall, the most experienced of Tiverton’s defenders was simply unable to organise his teammates sufficiently. Meanwhile Skinner was having a howler and found himself beaten again by the effervescent Revell as the hosts scored again after eleven minutes. This time the initial cross from the left was cleared back out to the wing but Revell’s second delivery was perfect for Wright to not across Draper and into the corner of the net.

Tivvy's supporters watched, almost embarrassed through narrowly separated fingers, and Buckland maintained their momentum. Moseley had a shot bravely blocked by Concanen and the lack of communication from the Southern Leaguers was apparent when Emati-Emati completely misinterpreted the intentions of Steele, leading me to wonder whether Steele would be better off passing the ball in French to overcome what seemed to be a language barrier. In seriousness football is a global language and it was simply as if Tiverton had not even graduated through prep school such was their shambolic performance. So with only twenty minutes on the clock, without even a trace of sympathy Buckland struck again: an uncharacteristic long ball from the Danny Lewis should have been dealt with but Kendall’s backwards header was short and Moseley raced through to gobble up his reward, onto the ball in a flash, around Draper and a calm placed shot to finish things off.

Poor Draper had no chance with any of the three goals and impressed with his concentration while those in front of him were toiling like children when he made an excellent save from Wright following an umpteenth defence-splitting pass. And even Athletic’s left back Gaze fancied getting in on the bullying act so strode forward with purpose before lashing in an attempt from pushing forty yards that missed the target high but not by a particularly large margin. Next it was Moseley yet again, teed up by the in-drifting Gavin Hammon, and Draper saved once more, while there was a brief respite for the Tivvy defence when Searle rushed down the wing and sent wide a shot from the edge of the area to a chorus of “Don’t shoot� from his teammates. Nodwell was the most vocal of all, and after being denied a free kick for what appeared to be a blatant body check he was cautioned for dissent, a decision fair enough as of itself but one which shouldn’t really have happened – Referee Mr Cloak was officiating to his usual standards…

In the second minute of the one additional minute of added time at the end of the first half any lingering doubts regarding the destination of the cup were swept up once and for all when Buckland scored their fourth of the evening. Hammon was again the architect as he held up play wide on the right, perhaps happy to take his time and wait for the whistle to signal the interval, but then able to wriggle his way into space to send over a cross. Hammon’s delivery seemed harmless enough as it sailed deep but Revell had other ideas and sprinted up to meet the ball before drilling a powerful low effort into the net from an almost impossible angle.

The game was lost but there was a massive amount of pride to try and regain amongst the Tiverton players and management, so Skinner was woken from his own personal nightmare and Kevin Hill entered the fray for the start of the second half, and the vast experience, coupled with Buckland’s new found lack of desire to attack led to a much more even second half. Indeed, midway through the second period I noted that Tiverton had arguably been the better side since the change of ends, some solace, empty, meaningless. It didn’t chance the fact that Tivvy had been completely outplayed during the only important stage of the night.

Five minutes into the second period Emati-Emati headed wide from Nodwell’s corner out on the left, always stretching and never completely comfortable with his position, but it was a chance nonetheless. Shortly afterwards came another chance and the only time the Bucks’ defence was stretched to any degree. However, their timing and unity was impeccable as they stepped forward as one, leaving Nardiello offside by a fraction when he headed Nodwell’s cross past Kenny Griffiths and into the net. It was at least encouraging that Tiverton could look like a team occasionally, and who knows, had Nardiello’s goal not been ruled out (correctly, I must add), and had Emati-Emati managed to get something onto a Concanen free kick just after the hour mark them we could have enjoyed a rousing finale. But Jules completely missed the flight of the ball at the far post as Concanen delivered following a loony foul by Gary Fisher on Nardiello, and Tiverton remained every bit as beaten as they were half an hour earlier.

Three more chances – of sorts – came and went. Nardiello with a header that Griffiths saved low down at the foot of his post when it was debatable if the ball had the energy to creep over the line anyway, and then a proper save by the Buckland goalkeeper that kept out substitute Tom Tricker. Joe Bushin, also on by this stage, followed in but lost his balance as he tried to clip the ball back over the ample Griffiths from an acute angle. Four minutes from time, or nine minutes from time if you include the four minutes and forty-one second added on Emati-Emati curled a free kick that was well enough flighted over the defensive wall but without the venom required to beat Griffiths, and that really was that. Buckland barely bothered going forward in the second half – they didn’t need to – but still looked dangerous on occasions. Their best move of the half ended when Antony Lynch volleyed a shot miles over the crossbar and half way to Teignmouth, but it really didn’t matter at all. The game was won inside the first twenty minutes, Buckland were superb, Tiverton hideous.

Buckland Athletic: Kenny Griffiths, Liam Drew, Danny Gaze, Gary Fisher, Simon Revell, Mike Booth (Antony Lynch 79), Lucas Burgess, Danny Lewis, Gavin Hammon, Liam Moseley (Ben Cowling 88), Chris Wright (Dean Stevens 69)
Goals: Wright 2, 11, Moseley 20, Revell 45+2
Booked: Fisher 62
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Ryan Draper, James Skinner (Kevin hill 46), Josh Concanen, Liam Pike (Tom Tricker 57), Paul Kendall, Russell Jee, David Steele, Harry Nodwell, Michael Nardiello, Jules Emati-Emati, Josh Searle (Joe Bushin 73)
Booked: Nodwell 42
Sent off: None

Attendance: 237

This report ©2012 Tivvy Archive