Match report

Tiverton Town 2 - 0 Yate Town

   Tuesday 04/09/2012   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

Yate Town’s recent record against Tiverton is poor, the Bluebells having lost four of the last five meeting, and harbouring a winless streak that extends back more than four years. In fact Yate have never won at Ladysmead and have managed just a solitary draw from their seven previous visits, so there was every reason for supporters of Tivvy to venture out brimming with optimism. Those positive vibes would only have been accentuated by Town’s weekend win at Bishop’s Cleeve, alongside Yate’s poor form so far this season which has seen then lose all of their league matches.

But if the scene was set for a comfortable home win then nobody told Rob Cousins and his players, and for most of the first fifteen minutes the visitors looked brighter and sprightlier. Attacking threats came from both wings with Matt Groves on the left and particularly Jake Cox on the right impressing in the early running, and Tiverton were indebted to goalkeeper Chris Wright as they managed to keep their sheet clean. Harvey Purnell’s third-minute shot didn’t endanger the Tivvy net but Ollie Barnes hit the target and brought the first of three fine saves from Wright when he curled a free kick around the wall. A minute or two later it was Edd Vahid’s turn to be denied as Wright saved his header, and the follow-up shot by Michael Meaker was also well saved by the Tiverton ’keeper.

Having weathered the initial storm Tivvy began to play some impressive passing football as the utilised the movement of Owen Howe and the aerial threat of Joe Bushin, as well as the technical competence deeper on he park. Tom Gardner’s cheeky chip down the line released Howe wide on the left but his cross was dragged wide by Bushin, and visiting goalkeeper Rob Brown then pulled of a superb save to tip David Steele’s goalbound shot onto and over the crossbar. Across the pitch there were good indications that Tiverton now had the measure of their opponents – Josh Concanen looked composed and used the ball well, Steele and Andy Taylor were beginning to dominate the midfield, and Harry Nodwell, although his final ball was often lacking, moved well and ran himself silly for the cause.

But there was still always a real threat from Yate, underlined when Groves switched play to the clubhouse side of the pitch and Cox curled a delightful shot beyond Wright and onto the inside of the post. The pair combined again the other way around ten minutes before the break but Groves’ header was straight at Wright, while Howe had a shot deflected crucially through to Brown by Vahid at the other end. And so the first half ended in a stalemate, but Tiverton could and probably should have taken the lead in added time when Taylor and Concanen combined to set up Bushin eight yards out and Bushin planted his shot horribly wide.

The verdict at the change of ends was that there was little to separate the teams, reflected in the half-time score, and depending on what side your bread is buttered it was easy to make a good claim in favour of either side leading at the interval. Yate came closer to scoring; Tivvy had the better chances, but in the end these things matter little if the net doesn’t ripple.

Nodwell tried to make the net rip rather than ripple as the second half got underway, but there was to be no thirty-yard belter from the midfielder as he got it all wrong and sliced his shot ten or more yards wide of Brown’s goal. Undeterred, Tivvy kept at it and it didn’t take long before the finally made the breakthrough – a long ball over the top gave Howe something to chase, and so off went the youngster with the smell of goals still fresh in his nostrils after his weekend brace. Ollie Barnes was struggling to track back as Howe accelerated upfield, so Brown took it upon himself to inherit the role of sweeper-keeper and sprinted from his goal and towards the bouncing ball. Forward he came, to the edge of his area; up he went, up went his arm and away went the ball off his glove. The problem was that by the time he met the ball his glove and the rest of his person was well outside the penalty area, meaning the referee had little choice but to award Tiverton a free kick and award Brown the opportunity to shower alone. Tom Warren took over in goal in Brown’s absence and in the absence of a recognised goalkeeper on the Yate Bench, and his first job was to set up a defensive wall. That he did, and his second job was to pick the ball out of the net after Taylor had drilled the free kick low and managed to squeeze his shot just inside the post.

Typically Yate were somewhat galvanised by the reduction in personnel and the concession of the goal, and they did well to up the tempo and press Tivvy deep. They switched to a defensive unit of three and therefore maintained numerical parity elsewhere on the pitch, and it was Groves that came closest to forging an equaliser when he wriggled and then bundled his way in from wide on the left to finally get in a low shot which Wright saved low down at his near post. But for all the possession they enjoyed the visitors seldom looked like they were able to pull the Tivvy defence beyond breaking point, and Gardner and Paul Kendall came to the fore during a phase of the game which could have proven nervous and tricky. Both were disciplined in their tackling (Kendall needed to be having picked up a caution in the first half) and smart in their distribution, and their presence helped the Yellows to ride Yate’s wave and then go on to ease over the line with a very well organised performance in the final twenty minutes.

Josh Searle made his return from injury and Russell Jee was then brought on in the heart of midfield, and the extra energy and pace offered by the former saw Yate’s depleted defence stretched further still, as they were still having a few issues with Howe’s movement on occasions. It was a very clever substitution from a tactical point of view, and on seventy minutes it had the desired effect. Searle chased around and won the ball back deep inside Yate territory, and then played a simple pass to Howe on the edge of the area. Twice Howe feigned to shoot, more than twice Concanen wide on the right yelled for the ball, but finally the shot came in from the striker, leaving poor Warren, by no means a goalkeeper and certainly without the stature of a goalkeeper, well beaten beyond his late dive to the left.

That goal sealed the win and although Yate once again had a lot of the ball they did very little with it. Tivvy played happily on the counter attack and in truth overplayed in the final third of the pitch. Howe brought a solid save from Warren having latched onto Taylor’s perfect pass and left Barnes in his wake with the nimbleness and turn of an English Nijinsky, but there could have been more efforts on goal, and perhaps more goals, had the Yellows needed to be ruthless. As it was everything was under control, the damage had been done when Brown made his one crucial error of the evening, and Tiverton were able to celebrate back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Alex Faux, Kevin Hill (Josh Searle 59), Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, Andy Taylor, David Steele, Owen Howe, Joe Bushin (Jules Emati-Emati 79), Harry Nodwell (Russell Jee 69)
Goals: Taylor 54, Howe 70
Booked: Kendall 20, Nodwell 56
Sent off: None

Yate Town: Rob Brown, Tom Warren, Tyrone Mings, Ollie Barnes, Scott Thomas, Danny Wright, Matt Groves (Mike Bryant 87), Edd Vahid, Michael Meaker, Harley Purnell, Jake Cox
Booked: Vahid 29, Barnes 68
Sent off: Brown 51

Attendance: 182

This report ©2012 Alan Reidy