Match report

Tiverton Town 1 - 1 Bridgwater Town

   Saturday 08/09/2012   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

Short and succinct: Tiverton and Bridgwater contrived to dish out between them one of the worst games of football I have seen for some time. From the first whistle to the last neither team played at all well, the few goalscoring chances that were carved out offered only slight hope, and in the end the Man of the Match was awarded to the played that was at fault for one of the goals. Brush this one under the carpet and move on; both teams are better than this.

It could have been very different indeed had Joe Bushin found the back of the net just thirty-six seconds into the game but he volleyed over the top from inside the goal area, spurning a chance made by Owen Howe who had shown good awareness to slip behind his marker wide on the right to loop in an early cross. But Bushin’s scoring touch is eluding him recently, and the only thing that ended up between the posts and beneath the bar on this occasion was himself, head scratching as the ball ricocheted around on the terrace.

After David Steele had seen a shot blocked, perhaps by Howe or perhaps by Bradley Middleton there was another sequence where the ball refused to go where it was asked, this time in the Tivvy penalty area. Jon Vance’s free kick was pumped into the box but forced behind by the Yellows as Tim Legg attempted in vain to divert it past Chris Wright, Legg desperate in his claims for a hand-ball to be awarded in favour of Bridgwater as the danger was eventually snuffed out. It was typical of the game that there was little control, accentuated when Harry Nodwell tried to let rip from distance and scuffed his shot so badly that the ball only just managed to bobble out of play several yards wide of Luke Purnell’s right post. And Paul Kendall’s semi-threatening header across the area, from a direct and long Josh Concanen free kick, was headed away by the strangely effective Chris McGrath as both sides toiled haplessly.

It was predictable that any breakthrough would come as the result of an error, and it was Kendall the man at fault as, still aghast at the failure of the referee to award him a free kick, he raced forward and arrived far too late to cut out a pass near the halfway line. That allowed Bridgwater to pump the ball forward – no culture but penetration nonetheless, and Wright had to be drawn from his goal and from his area to sweep up the danger. Sadly for Tivvy Wright’s header under pressure fell straight to the feet of Craig Veal and Veal sent the ball back from whence it came, over Wright and into the net just before Tom Gardner could race back and make a clearance.

The first half petered out as much as it could – it had hardly got going in the first place – and both Andy Taylor and Kevin Hill sent volleys well over the bar, while in added time Bushin turned and shot straight at Purnell to bring to an end what was arguably Tivvy’s best move of the match when Kendall and Hill had cleverly guided Taylor’s corner into a good position.

That was to be Bushin’s last action of the game, and his performance was suitably poor to make it an easy decision for Mark Saunders to introduce Jules Emati-Emati and the start of the second half. Nodwell was also sacrificed and he too could have no arguments; his most notable contribution was to horribly shank a cross from the right half way to the supermarket. So on came Josh Searle, and immediately the Yellows looked better. After two minutes of the resumption Jules had already looked more of a threat than Bushin, but he could only look on as his cutback was hooked by Howe over the crossbar. And moments later the roles were reversed but Legg got back to take the sting off Emati-Emati’s shot and the ball rolled safely through to Purnell in a rare moment when the Bridgy goalkeeper wasn’t paying more attention to his bottle of water.

For their part Bridgwater did very little to entertain, but they held the lead so you can hardly blame them from keeping things tight. Not once did they look like extending their advantage, and the lack of threat at that end of the pitch left Wright bored so on occasions he took it upon himself to add to the entertainment by trundling around and intercepting balls well outside his area, or by cheekily ‘Cruyffing’ any attacker that showed the inclination to try and rush a clearance. The action was not so much up the other end as non-existent though, and Taylor curled a free kick around the defensive wall and into the perimeter wall, Vance did exactly the same at the Devco End, and Emati-Emati tried from distance with the same result.

Michael Nardiello’s introduction gave further energy and a new dimension to the Tivvy attack, just as Jules had done half an hour earlier, and for the nineteen minutes he was on the pitch he was head and shoulders above anyone else in terms of class. It was just a shame that neither of his two shots ended up in the onion bag – the first agonisingly wide with Purnell well beaten, and the second straight at the goalkeeper. It didn’t matter too much though as Tiverton finally managed to haul themselves back onto level terms five minutes from the end. Kye Mountford was penalised for a cynical foul on Nardiello, earned himself a yellow card, and Taylor then launched the ball into the danger-zone. Emati-Emati showed his worth with a winner in the air, nodded the ball across goal, and the onrushing Concanen had the relatively easy task of side-footing the ball into the net from close range as Purnell struggled to get across his goal and cover the post.

Tivvy had escaped with a point in one of those matches where it would have been fair if both teams had lost, and missed out on all three when Howe headed a Taylor corner wide in added time. To play so poorly and still get something out of the game is one of few plus points that can be taken from a game that will be quickly forgotten by the vast majority of the 242 spectators.

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Alex Faux (Michael Nardiello 75), Kevin Hill. Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, Andy Taylor, David Steele, Owen Howe, Joe Bushin (Jules Emati-Emati 46), Harry Nodwell (Josh Searle 46)
Goal: Concanen 85
Booked: Emati-Emati 66
Sent off: None

Bridgwater Town: Luke Purnell, Phil Veal, Kye Thomas, Bradley Middleton (Craig Mawford 81), Chris McGrath, Tim, Legg, Craig Veal (Graham Mercieca 83), Kye Mountford, Dave Pearse, Jon Vance, Steve Fitzpatrick
Goal: Craig Veal 23
Booked: Phil Veal 25, Mountford 84
Sent off: None

Attendance: 242

This report ©2012 Alan Reidy