Match report

Thatcham Town 0 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 15/09/2012   FA Trophy
Alan Reidy

Be careful what you wish for, because sometimes your wishes will come true. All Tivvy would have wished for is a win – any win – as they kicked off their FA Trophy campaign at Thatcham Town. And ugly win, a deflected goal in the last minute of injury time, and own goal, a penalty, a goal by any means, it wouldn’t matter. This was cup football and the ends is more important than the means, and in the end the means were far from perfect but the result was just what was ordered, and at the end of a game that takes the word ‘scrappy’ to new levels Tiverton can make plans for a trip to Weymouth in the next round.

Michael Nardiello scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in the 71st minute and that was Tivvy’s first proper shot on target of the afternoon. Thatcham had not exactly fared any better or played any better and only had a flashing volley from Charlie Hill, brilliantly saved by Chris Wright to show for their efforts. And there was plenty of effort and plenty of endeavour but very little guile and even less imagination as both sides cancelled each other out for most of the game.

The main point of interest was the duel between Thatcham hotshot Danny Seaward and Tiverton defender Paul Kendall, a battle in which Seaward had appeared to have gained the upper hand when he hit the deck under a twentieth-minute challenge to the very audible disagreement of Kendall. The captain of the visitors was justifiably shown a yellow card for his dissent of the referee’s decision and needed thereafter to watch his step which he did. The pair continued their private tête-à-tête and for the most part it was hard and fair and Kendall began to assert his authority, reducing Seaward to only brief glimpses of the ball and even then no space in which to hurt Tivvy. On occasions Seaward drifted far enough to the left side of the Tiverton defence that he came up against Tom Gardner and Lewis Tasker, and although his pace was more of a valuable asset in this area of the pitch there was still no end result.

There was not much else happening; Tiverton tried to play down the flanks but were regularly forced into knocking the ball long, and neither Jules Emati-Emati nor Owen Howe were able to get any joy from this direct style of play. Howe seemed the more likely to muster something from nothing but his threat was largely nullified by the dominant Sam Flegg despite the Tivvy striker running around busily as one would expect from an eager teenager. Jules on the other hand was not at the races and he was the first Tiverton player to be withdrawn when he made way for Nardiello just after the hour mark. Emati-Emati’s afternoon was pretty well summed up inside the first twenty seconds when he picked up on Josh Searle’s pass, bundled his way into the area and then allowed the ball to run away from him and through to Thatcham goalkeeper Jon Beames. Jules then scuffed a shot at Beames, and Andy Taylor, as busy as ever in midfield, launched a hopeful shot that flew off target, but the Yellows were being kept at arm’s reach and chances were at a premium.

Equally hapless, Thatcham came closest to breaking the deadlock when Kieron Thorne played a quick one-two but eventually poked his shot not only past Wright but also part the upright. That was early on and after Seaward had been correctly penalised for a foul on Wright as Tivvy initially struggled with the pace of the host’s forward line, but equilibrium was soon reached and other than another opening for Seaward, when he spun away from Gardner and shot weakly wide, the first period was dull in the extreme.

There was no sign at the resumption that things would get better and the game would spark into life, and for fifteen minutes the action wasn’t so much confined to the pitch as to the area thirty feet above it. Both sides either lacked ideas or had reached the conclusion that the pitch was too hard and full of knots to actually try playing on. Rare passes on the deck bobbled up or ran away quickly and the fare was some way short of enjoyable with the exception of one moment of excellence from Hill equalled by Wright . Again Seaward found space and again he wasted his shot having raced in behind Tasker, so something needed to change and Mark Saunders blinked first by introducing Nardiello to the fray.

That was just the tonic Tivvy needed as, like he did in the closing stages of the game against Bridgwater seven day earlier Nards gave the Yellows extra impetus (or rather, in this case, some impetus.) Five minutes into his cameo he was able to break down the otherwise solid Thatcham defence, picking up the ball by the right touchline, exchanging passes with Searle, and then racing into the area. Nardiello might have been able to get a shot away and finally test Beames had it not been for the physical and illegal intervention of Matt Bowler, a leg out a fraction too late and crucially a leg that sent the Tivvy substitute stumbling to the ground. Mr Bayliss, the man in the middle, had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, and once Nardiello had received the congratulations from Searle for the penetrating run he cleared his head, placed the ball and coolly beat Beames from twelve yards.

Thatcham made two substitutions of their own as they now found themselves chasing the game but neither Shane Hollamby nor Joe Harris had any significant impact on the pattern of play. In fact it was Tiverton who could have scored the next goal and Nardiello had a half-chance which went straight through to the goalkeeper after Taylor had helped on Josh Concanen’s direct ball into the area. Ten minutes from time Tasker, for the only time in the game, was allowed to gallop forward from his left-back slot as gaps began to appear and the game gradually opened up a touch, but his shot was palmed by Beames behind for a corner – safety first from the Thatcham custodian and Tasker’s shot was probably heading wide anyway. There were no further shots, no massive gambles from the home side, and Harry Nodwell and Russell Jee came on for Tivvy to offer fresh and extra legs in midfield as the Yellows saw out time with very little fuss.

Thatcham Town: Jon Beames, Damien Smith, Paul Taplin, Sam Flegg, Matt Bowler, Kieron Thorne (Shane Hollamby 78), Martin Williams, Jack Coventry (Joe Harris 79), Adam Everiss (Charlie Hill 58), Danny Seaward, Dave Asker
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Lewis Tasker, Kevin Hill, Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, Andy Taylor, David Steele (Harry Nodwell 87), Owen Howe (Russell Jee 90), Jules Emati-Emati (Michael Nardiello 66), Josh Searle
Goal: Nardiello 71p
Booked: Kendall 21, Wright 90+1
Sent off: None

Attendance: 86

This report ©2012 Alan Reidy