Match report

Clevedon Town 2 - 0 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 25/08/2012   FA Cup
Alan Reidy

“You feel proud of the work you have done, but football has no memory and you must demonstrate it every day.?

Thanks heavens for that! Football has no memory, according to FC Barcelona legend Xavi Hernández, and that means that we can all safely digest and then quickly forget about Tiverton’s FA Cup dream that turned into a nightmare almost before it had begun. Hopes were high as they always are at this time of year, not just amongst the players and supporters at Ladysmead, but across the nation, including at the Hand Stadium, home of Preliminary Round opponents and league rivals Clevedon Town. Half of those hopes are dashed on the second Saturday of FA Cup competition and Tiverton, these days strangers to extended runs in this particular knock-out tournament, made the journey home with heads bowed, having lost by two goals against a side that was dogged but limited – an interesting contrast to Tivvy themselves who have so far this season been progressive yet limited.

It took Clevedon fifty-five minutes to break the deadlock, and perhaps they should have scored earlier, but both of their strikers missed decent chances in the first half – Joe Flurry from ten yards and Adam Mahdi twice from the edge of the area. The first of those, Flurry’s, came early on during a spell in the game which saw Tiverton piling forward and creating a few openings of their own. But the Yellows are goal-shy in the extreme at present and home goalkeeper Lee Matthews was forced to make just a single save in the first half despite the pressure his side were under. Tom Gardner headed over from a Lewis Tasker corner; Tasker himself saw a shot deflected wide; Joe Bushin dragged a shot haplessly wide when he should have at least hit the target. Typical Tiverton, and it continued… Gardner again, this time off his boot but the same result – over the crossbar, and Jules Emati-Emati headed into the bravely retreating Aaron Robbins. That was unlucky on Tivvy’s part, and Emati-Emati went close just a minute later (by now we have played just seventeen minutes, to indicate how the Yellows hit the ground running) when he finally brought a stop out of Matthews. Paul Kendall was the next to try and fail as he missed the target when meeting yet another Tasker corner, and Bushin’s header clipped the outside of the post as Gardner nodded the ball back across goal.

Clevedon came into the game during the final third of the first half and Gardner slid in late to thwart Bawan Hussain after the Seasiders’ midfielder had shown Tasker a clean set of heels, and then Mahdi saw both of his attempts sail wide of Chris Wright’s post before the referee brought the game to its interval. The hosts had survived the early onslaught with relative comfort, helped by Tiverton’s lack of ability or belief of ruthlessness in front of goal, and they had threatened to a degree once they managed to gain possession and get the ball down and play. Tivvy’s shortage of fluidity was underlined when David Steele played a fine piercing ball into the box – a short yet incisive pass the likes of which Xavi himself would have been proud – only for Bushin to find himself flat-footed as he failed to read the intentions of his teammate. Steele, alongside Russell Jee and Kevin Hill had played perfectly well but found themselves pressurised as too often there was a distinct lack of inventive movement from the three players ahead of them on the pitch.

The early part of the second half followed much the same pattern with a lack of incisiveness up front, and the fact that two of Tiverton’s four chances prior to Clevedon taking the lead came from Kendall’s head says a lot. The first of those went over, the second straight at Matthews, while Bushin missed the target on a rare occasion when Emati-Emati was able to find space and put a decent ball into the box, and then Owen Howe dragged a shot the wrong side of the post.

Finally Clevedon showed Tiverton how it should be done with the best move of the match. Jordan Walker intercepted andstrode forward from his deep position, skipped past one challenge and then exchanged passes on the edge of the area with Hussain. The return ball left Kendall beaten and left Walker behind the Yellows’ defence with just the exposed Wright for company, not that the glovesman could do much as Walker slotted the ball below him with remarkable coolness. And that was Clevedon’s first of three proper shots on target all afternoon, the second of which came six minutes from time and wrapped up the tie. But before all that Tivvy searched in vain for the goal that would bring the sides back to Ladysmead on Tuesday. But the more they searched the less likely an equaliser became, and in the end there were signs of desperation. Steele’s long-range left-footed shot had Matthews sprawling back and to his left to tip the ball over for a corner, and when the resulting corner was only half cleared Harry Nodwell, on in place of the ineffectual Howe pumped the ball back in and Gardner, not for the first time, missed the goal and found the terrace.

Tasker fired one in that was straight at Matthews and easy for the ’keeper, Bushin headed off target from what was, with due respect, a very tricky chance, and then got one on target two minutes later only for Matthews to come up trumps with his best save of the match as he threw himself away to his right to somehow get a strong enough hand on the ball to push it wide.

By now Adam Faux had replaced Jee and Tiverton were, in theory at least, playing a 3-4-3 formation. In reality they were throwing players forward as much as possible with both Kendall and Gardner regularly taking up advanced positions, and with that risk comes either reward or punishment. Clevedon punished Tivvy by making good use of the space to break clinically on the counter attack and seal the victory late on – Reeko Best, fresh legged having been on the pitch for just a few minutes raced away and onto a long ball, no offside as he had been in his own half of the pitch when the pass was played by McKenna, sprinted away from Faux, rounded Wright and walked the ball towards goal before smashing it into the net from less than a yard out.

Tasker had one final chance which sailed disappointingly over, almost into orbit, Gardner was cautioned for a foul on McKenna to add his name to those of Jee and Tasker who had been booked earlier in the day, and in the fifth minute of added time McKenna and Best combined only for the latter to shoot early and into Wright’s arms.

“This is sport and you need to continue forward. The competitions that remain are the most important.?

“If you’re not optimistic, you might as well give up now.?

Xavi Hernández says some wise things. Tiverton’s players are miles away from the Spaniard in terms of ability but they really could do with taking heed of his advice and refusing to lose heart. It will take some time and patience on the training ground to build an understanding, specifically between the midfielders and the forwards, but the talent is there to score goals and to win matches. They just have to start believing.

Clevedon Town: Lee Matthews, Curtis Jack, Aaron Robbins, Bawan Hussain (Jack McKenna 56), Jordan Walker, Ben Murray, Alex Russell, Adi Adams, Joe Flurry, Adam Mahdi, Cameron Ricketts (Reeko Best 80)
Goals: Walker 55, Best 84
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Lewis Tasker, Kevin Hill, Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, Russell Jee (Adam Faux 72), David Steele, Owen Howe (Harry Nodwell 58), Joe Bushin, Jules Emati-Emati
Booked: Jee 9, Tasker 57, Gardner 90+1
Sent off: None

Attendance: 96

This report ©2012 Alan Reidy