Match report

Bishop's Cleeve 2 - 3 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 01/09/2012   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

Perhaps we sometimes try to hard to find patterns. Humans need uniformity; we are simple folk and require the unscientific consolidation that everything will be okay, so boy, didn’t it help that Tiverton’s first win of the season came on the road and ended 2-3. There’s more – Joe Bushin headed in the first, the Yellows failed to convert a penalty, it almost went horribly wrong, and barely anyone was there to see it.

An afternoon out at Bishop’s Cleeve is seldom at the top of anybody’s Saturday agenda but the Tivvy team turned up and did what they had to do, despite still being reduced to a bare minimum for various reasons. Liam Ellis is no longer a part of the first-team squad, Michael Nardielllo’s work commitments once again kept him away, Lewis Tasker is on holiday, and Josh Searle remains with the Reserve team as part of his fight for fitness and sharpness. With those absentees in mind Mark Saunders took the supposed risk of leaving the misfiring Jules Emati-Emati on the bench along with Harry Nodwell and Owen Howe partnered Bushin in attack as Andy Taylor filled in on the left wing with Josh Concanen on the opposite flank.

Tivvy started well enough but Concanen’s deliveries were poor on the whole and his first cross from the wing sailed harmlessly across the face of goal despite good work that brought about the opportunity to deliver the ball. Not to worry, there was hope, and Bishop’s Cleeve goalkeeper James Nortei was an obvious target as his clearing kicks were regularly scuffed, as they had been in the three previous games he had played against Town. Bushin pressed the custodian and forced him into his first error just seven minutes into the game, Taylor teed up David Steele and Steele was chopped down by Matt Rose. The free kick, twenty-five yards out and central was curled over the wall by Kevin Hill, tipped onto the bar by Nortei and over for a corner which was wasted by Taylor.

Meanwhile, Owen Howe’s movement was a constant thorn in the host’s side and it required the good attention of Michael Jackson to cut out and hack behind a cross from the young striker as Howe latched onto a teasing ball down the line, played expertly by Adam Faux. The corner that followed provided the breakthrough as Taylor swung in a cross and Bushin leapt highest in a congested goal area to head the ball into the net. Nil-One and Cleeve had barely had a touch.

What the blues had done and continued to do for most of the game was to get a lot of touches on their opponents – they weren’t the prettiest team ever, but they were functional and they were also dangerous in spells, underlined when they drew level just four minutes later. Will Gayton was fed the ball, back to goal and some way out, but managed to turn and then drift past Adam Faux, jinked his way spectacularly into the area and finally finished things off with a powerful low shot that found the back of the net via Chris Wright’s left and the right post. It was a well executed goal, but one of those where you were left wondering whether perhaps Adam would have been better off committing a foul early in the move and conceding a free kick out on the left.

There were no further goals in the first half and frankly not many chances either. It was a physical and ugly affair and Tom Gardner was one of many to give away fouls. That wasn’t punished as Jackson hammered his free kick into the wall, Concanen blazed two crosses behind, both of which could have threatened, and shortly before the break Gardner was back in the thick of it when Hill and Steele contrived to give the ball away in a dangerous area and Matthew Rose nearly stole in only for the Tivvy defender to hook the ball away with an overhead back-heel. Rose unfortunately took the brunt of Gardner’s force as he threw himself forward, a heel in the face, but after some tender love from the rather attractive Bishop’s Cleeve physio he was good to go again, Faux wasn’t good to go, however, a scar that began on his thigh and ended just above the ankle the war wound to show for his attempt to beat Nortei to the ball – the result of that was a friendly throw-in s the home side kicked the ball out and Tivvy were obliged to give it back to them. It should have been a penalty and a red card.

That was Faux’s last action of the game and Harry Nodwell came on for the final minute of the first half as Concanen reverted to his more familiar defensive role. But there was nothing in the tactics of that switch that led to Tiverton’s second goal just twenty-one seconds into the second half. It was so simple and straightforward – Steele through ball, Cleeve defence high and pierces, Howe in behind. Owen could have done so many things wrong but didn’t, he kept his nerve, kept the ball as Alex Hoyle tracked back in desperation, and then slid a shot below Nortei. The Yellows were back in front.

It was difficult to see a way back for the home side – they were limited in nous and in penetration, and their goal had arrived thanks to individual brilliance rather than good team play. But now they needed to focus on going forward as a unit rather than just trying to kick anything that came near, and that philosophy seemed difficult to grasp. It was all Yellow and Bushin almost added to his tally only for Nortei to sprawl forward and smother, a similar situation to that which put Faux out of the game, and then a Concanen cross (he was so much better playing deeper) saw Bushin head onto the crossbar.

Without being dominant Tivvy were well in command; Gardner glanced a header off target, Howe dribbled into the box only for Nortei to save low down, and Alex Faux should have done better having robbed Lamin Sankoh – his final touch was neither a shit or a cross. Howe was then in again as Bushin flicked on a high ball but Jackson came back to make a perfect saving tackle, and Tiverton were denied a penalty when Steele’s corner appeared to have been handled twice in a goalmouth mêlée.

That was pretty much Bushin’s last action of the day as he picked up a second yellow card for a late tackle on Mace, and with twenty to go Tivvy might have thought they were in for a rough ride through to the end of the game. But Howe was up for leading the line on his own and came up trumps just a few ticks later when he once again got in behind the Bishops’ defence and pelted a shot past Nortei and into the top corner. The Yellows had some breathing space now, and as it turned out they needed it!

Gayton worked his way into the book for a silly foul on Steele, Nortei saved from Howe as the striker raced onto Nodwell’s though ball, and with time starting to run out the hosts pulled one back. Wight tried to catch when he should have punched, and although that wasn’t directly responsible for the goal, the Tivvy ’keeper’s next piece of action was – he simply allowed Jackson’s tame shot to slip through his fingers and into the net. And boy, didn’t that set up a grand finale?

Actually no it didn’t. Bishop’s Cleeve remained as unimpressive even when there was hope and a reason to try something different, and their cause certainly wasn’t helped when Ashley Caldwell saw yellow for dissent and then a minute later another yellow and thus a red for taking a throw-in straight at the retreating Steele. An odd decision by the referee who clearly hadn’t noticed Steele’s intentions of deliberately blocking the throw, but here we had a referee who made more than one odd decision.

His next odd decision was to award Tiverton a penalty in the final minute of the game, against Jake Lee for a foul on Howe. Nobody appealed, nobody really thought it was a penalty, but it was given and promptly whacked against the base of the upright by Taylor. Cleeve lived again but not for much longer as substitute Carl Brown’s long-ranger sailed high and handsome. That was all, Tivvy had picked up their first win of the season, fully deserved, and with that monkey off their collective backs can head into the next phase of the season in good spirits.

Bishop’s Cleeve: James Nortei, Alex Hoyle, Adam Mace (Steve Jones 82), Matthew Rose, Ashley Caldwell, Jake Lee, Lamin Sankoh (Carl Brown 65), Michael Jackson, Mike Tambling, Alex Sykes, Will Gayton
Goals: Gayton 15, Jackson 84
Booked: Rose 29, Hoyle 29, Caldwell 88, 89
Sent off: Caldwell 89

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Adam Faux (Harry Nodwell 45+1), Alex Faux, Kevin Hill, Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, Andy Taylor, David Steele, Owen Howe, Joe Bushin, Josh Concanen
Goals: Bushin 11, Howe 46, 74
Booked: Alex Faux 29, Bushin 62, 69
Sent off: Bushin 69

Attendance: 45

This report ©2012 Alan Reidy