Match report

Paulton Rovers 2 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Tuesday 21/08/2012   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

In the now-traditional early-season Winterfield Road meeting between Paulton Rovers and Tiverton Town there are certain things to expect: it gets rather cold when the sun drops below the horizon; Paulton score an early goal; Tiverton play terribly; Paulton win. Parts one, two and four held true in the 2012 version of this predictable battle, but for once Tivvy actually put up a decent fight. Whether that is because the Yellows are now a better team, a more organised team, a more familiar team amongst themselves, or whether Paulton, under new management, are not as good, not as organised or not as familiar to each other is something that remains to be seen throughout the course of the year, but there was certainly not as clear a gulf in class between the sides as there had been last year and the year before.

With that said it was the home side that started with the tails wagging faster and more able or more ready to try and get the ball down on what was a splendid playing surface, bruised only lightly by two pre-season friendlies. Nick McCootie won a corner and then forced in a shot when Kris Miller’s cross skipped all the way through the penalty area, but the sting was taken out of this first effort as Lewis Tasker popped out a leg and the ball bounced through to Chris Wright in the Tivvy goal. That all happened in the fifth minute and by the end of the sixth minute Tiverton were contemplating kicking off for the second time that evening as Paulton celebrated the opening goal of the game. Again Miller was involved as he picked up on Stuart Tovey’s through ball, and his low centre found James Billing in enough space to turn and shoot into the bottom corner of the net.

Buoyed by the goal Rovers pressed forward again and over the next twenty-five minutes they could well have extended their lead but for some slightly wasteful finishing. McCootie planted a shot wide at the near post despite being in space when he received the ball from the effervescent Ben Lacey who had wriggled away from Josh Concanen down the Paulton left, Craig Loxton scuffed one through to Wright, the same player blasted a dipping shot from distance that Wright saved and gathered in at the second time of asking, and just past the half-hour mark Scott Brice ambled forward to meet Miller’s corner only to nod the ball past the post and nod his own nose into the back of Paul Kendall’s head at the same time.

Tivvy struggled when they attempted to play directly at the heart of the home defence and Brice, it has to be said, was faultless all night as he won just about everything in the air that needed winning. But similar to the game against Abingdon there was more focus from the Yellows down the flanks with Tasker and Concanen getting forward as often as possible, and Alex Faux also holding a wider position more regularly. As a means of overloading key areas of the pitch Michael Nardiello also pulled wide to the left frequently and it was his movement and delivery that created the first opening for Town, but Andy Taylor, sliding in desperately at the far post was always a foot too far in arrears and although he managed to get a toe onto the ball he could only help it out for a goal kick.

A couple of moves that might suggest Tiverton were playing some form of Total Football followed later: Harry Nodwell’s through ball found Tasker forward, Tasker’s cross found Kendall in the area, and Kendall’s header found Phillips’ gloves. Then Concanen released Tasker with what clever people call a slide-rule pass but what most people would simply call a low pass through the middle onto which the receiving player ran. Anyway, the Tivvy leftie had his shot blocked behind for a corner, and soon after drilled in a low free kick which Phillips did particularly well to hold safely. Having started the game sluggishly Tiverton ended the half well on top but behind on the scoreboard, confirmed in the final minute before the break when Tasker and Hill exchanged passes, the former lifted up a cross and Taylor headed into the perimeter wall just to the right of goal.

A most entertaining game resumed in a fashion not dissimilar to how it had broken off, and although Paulton were playing well enough it was Tiverton who made and missed the bulk of the chances. Nardiello, more direct in the second half as Tivvy attacked down the slope, shot wide from twenty-five yards and then over from twenty, Taylor got one on target when Alex Faux pelted down the wing and squared a pass inside, but Phillips saved easily, and then a couple of crosses into the area had the Rovers defensive line in a bit of a panic – some pinball wizardry from a Tasker delivery where the ball could have gone anywhere and did indeed go somewhere, somewhere safe, then a less than inspired parry by Phillips as Nardiello launched one into the danger area.

Hanging on? Maybe, but not exactly backs to the wall for the hosts all the same, and when they finally managed to get themselves moving in the right direction they made it count. Sixty-seven minutes on the clock and Marcus Mapstone stepped forward to take the ball from Owen Howe and pelt forward at pace. Momentum was on Mapstone’s side but Howe is mighty quick and managed to make up the lost ground by the time the Paulton defender had reached shooting distance. With Mapstone looking set to breeze into the area and past the last defender he was stopped in his tracks as Howe chopped him down, a smart foul for want of a better expression because the maroon shirted player was about to leave the Tivvy defence marooned. But it turned out to be a costly foul when Miller curled the free kick around the wall, around Wright’s despairing dive and into the net at the top of the hill.

For fifteen minutes Tivvy lost their way but for a weak shot by Howe straight at the goalkeeper; Sean Seavill replaced the excellent Miller and Lee Collier came on for McCootie and Rovers tightened things up and tried to take the sting out of the game. Tiverton’s response was to try and put the sting right back into the game and Jules Emati-Emati and Joe Bushin were both introduced, Tasker and Nardiello making way. Frustration was rife – how could they play this well at a ground they always play so poorly, yet still be two goals behind? Frustration that led to Harry Nodwell earning a yellow card for a late challenge on Billing (Nodwell had been lucky earlier on to avoid a caution for remonstrations after he had bumped Lacey to the ground), and then Paul Kendall adding his name to the referee’s book, dissent the shameful verdict, the foul on Loxton not really that debateable anyway.

There was ten minutes left when Tivvy regained their composure and made a proper sporting fight of it. On came David Steele in place of Nodwell, over sailed the ball off Howe’s head, and over again sailed the ball from Steele’s boot. At least the Yellows were once more getting into good positions, getting shots on goal, pushing the Paulton defence deep, and most importantly winning the ball back high up the pitch. Another attack down the right and finally a goal! Concanen and Taylor had worked their socks off, Jules had too in the short time he had been on the pitch, and all three combined with Concanen finally crossing from a deep position towards the edge of the area. Howe was there, his first touch wasn’t the best but it was good enough to open enough space to turn, and his second touch wasn’t that great either but it was good enough to find a gap though an area crowded with defenders and find the bottom corner of the net as Phillips, probably unsighted, scrambled to his right too late to make the save.

The game was almost up but there remained five minutes of added time and Tivvy won a corner on the right. Faux didn’t deliver well but Paulton defended nervously as they hung on and Faux had another chance. This time it was better but the end result was the same. Even Wright was forward as the third corner was lifted into the area, but the goalkeeper admitted later he can’t head the ball, hence his curious decision to offer himself for a short option. Faux ignored him; Kendall met the cross and headed towards goal… Phillips tipped the ball over the top. A fourth corner, this time from Tiverton’s left and taken by Taylor, and Paulton managed to hoof the ball unceremoniously upfield to the tune of the final whistle and a collective sigh of relief from the few locals that bothered to watch what was a pulsating and extremely entertaining match.

Paulton Rovers: Kyle Phillips, Stuart Tovey, Marcus Mapstone, Dan Cleverley, Scott Brice, Josh Jeffries, Craig Loxton, Ben Lacey, James Billing, Nick McCootie (Lee Collier 79), Kris Miller (Sean Seavill 73 (Lee Davidson 90+4))
Goals: Billing 6, Miller 67
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Lewis Tasker (Jules Emati-Emati 70), Kevin Hill, Paul Kendall, Adam Faux, Andy Taylor, Harry Nodwell (David Steele 80), Michael Nardiello (Joe Bushin 77), Owen Howe, Alex Faux
Goal: Howe 87
Booked: Nodwell 78, Kendall 80
Sent off: None

Attendance: 88




This report ©2012 Alan Reidy