Match report

Tiverton Town 2 - 1 Shortwood United

   Saturday 22/09/2012   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

Tiverton Town are third in the league table this evening. Heady heights indeed and a position that has been foreign to the Yellows since the early part of the 2006/07 season. Then Tivvy beat Yate 3-0 to move to the top of the pile but eventually faded away and finished the season fifteenth; the current crop can and will do much better.

Perhaps there are yellow goggles, but I truly believe that Tiverton have been the better team in all eight games they have played this season. On occasions they have been found wanting in certain areas, but on the whole they have had the bulk of the possession, the bulk of the chances, and the bulk of the bad luck too. Against Shortwood the law of averages finally evened out and two Joe Bushin goals saw that the Yellows extended their unbeaten run to five games. It wasn’t straightforward but it was deserved – a smart team selection and an energetic midfield eventually breaking down a Shortwood team that would have been happy to leave Devon with a point.

David Steele and particularly Harry Nodwell set the tempo for Tiverton, harassing their rivals and winning balls that they shouldn’t have. Hunger and desire won over initially and Shortwood never really recovered from the early intensity despite scoring the first goal against the run of play. That came in the fifteenth minute when Josh Concanen switched off and allowed a simple free kick to be played down his flank; John Cant delivered from the Shortwood left and Kevin Slack got in to steer the ball past Chris Wright. A nice goal it was too, even if it came from one of very few Shortwood attacks.

By that stage Andy Taylor has already put one shot over, Lewis Tasker was expertly denied by United goalkeeper Tom King after Luke Gullick’s foul on Owen Howe, a foul for which Gullick became the first player to be cautioned, and Paul Kendall also saw an effort saved, a header that went straight at King from a Tasker free kick, also won by Howe. Tivvy had bossed the game thus far but were caught napping and Slack made them pay, changing the complexion of the game.

One could have forgiven Shortwood had they then sat on their lead, soaked up the pressure and hoped to hit on the break. But there was no real opportunity to do this as their lead lasted just four minutes. Howe won a corner chasing a lost cause and epitomising the Tivvy mentality, and when Tasker’s cross was nodded away there were still plenty of yellow shirts forward. Kendall helped the ball back into the area by looping a header up-field, and with an instinctive change of body-shape Bushin quickly wrestled himself around and managed to launch an overhead kick towards goal that left King static and left the ball nestling in the net.

Getting back on level terms was some sort of justice and Tivvy maintained the pressure for the rest of the first half without ever really stretching Shortwood. Conversely, the visitors were noticeably apprehensive when moving forward and the late afternoon sunshine was easy to enjoy for the Town defence. Bushin picked up a curious yellow card for a foul that wasn’t a foul, the referee pointing to other supposed fouls as means of justification, King made a very good save from Steele’s deflected shot, and Bushin rounded off the first half with a looping and generally unthreatening header that was easy for the ’keeper.

And so the second half began and it was much the same in terms of pattern. Tiverton’s central midfield duo were on top with Steele breaking up play and using the ball smartly while Nodwell was also doing his fair share on donkey-work and also pressing forward and stretching play effectively. And it was the dominance of these two which allowed Taylor to venture around and get himself forward, but twice in the early stages of the second half his end product was lacking – a Bushin header cushioned down and a weak shot saved by King, then a fine team move from the right involving Josh Searle Howe, Bushin, and then eventually Taylor, but with the same result.

The balance was never in doubt but the game almost became a farce for the spectators when Howe headed onto the post and it became apparent that scoring goals wasn’t so easy. What Tivvy needed to believe was that the goal would arrive, and they also had to make sure that they were fully concentrated when defending, a concept that was heightened in its importance when Matt Bennett sent a powerful volley just wide on a rare Shortwood attack. But that was just on moment at the Devco End against many at the other, and a few minutes later Josh Concanen was denied by desperate defending as Tivvy one more asserted their authority, a lunging defensive clearance from Mark Pritchett the only thing that kept the scores level.

Concanen’s effort came with twenty minutes to go, and although Shortwood made a change soon afterwards there was little difference in the balance of play. Tivvy kept probing, kept using width, and kept trying to get their foot on the ball. In the eightieth minute it finally paid off – a flowing move saw Josh Searle finally find space on the right, and his cross was just what Bushin thrives off. Between two defenders the Tivvy striker rose and nodded the ball over King and into the net, giving Tiverton a lead they deserved but had to work hard for.

There was still time left and Shortwood squandered a good chance, or rather Wright denied them with a fine double save to thwart Martin and then Ross Langworthy, but the visitors had little else to offer as time ticked away at Tivvy held onto their advantage.

Tiverton Town: Chris Wight, Josh Concanen, Lewis Taker (Alex Faux 87), Harry Nodwell, Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, Andy Taylor, David Steele, Owen Howe, Joe Bushin, Josh Searle
Goals: Bushin 19, 80
Booked: Bushin 30, Taylor 90+3
Sent off: None

Shortwood United: Tom King, Luke Gullick, Alton Axton, Mark Pritchett, James Baldwin, Tim Haddock, James Singh (Jamie Martin 77), Jake Parrott, Ross Langworthy, Kevin Slack (Liam Meredith 60), John Cant (Matt Bennett 60)
Goal: Slack 15
Booked: Gullick 5
Sent off: None

Attendance: 186

This report ©2012 Alan Reidy