Match report

Weymouth 3 - 0 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 29/09/2012   FA Trophy
Alan Reidy

We were never going to win it anyway. Neither for that matter will Weymouth, but at least the Terras are still in the FA Trophy after they cruised to a 3-0 victory against Tiverton at the Bob Lucas Stadium. Matt Groves set the home side on their way with a close-range finish in the fourth minute, and once Paul Kendall had been sent off for two bookable offences Weymouth were able to wrap the game up with further strikes from Dan Smith and Mark Ford. The final result may have looked a bit harsh on Tivvy, and in truth the Yellows were certainly not without their chances, but there was a distinct gulf in the organisation of the two teams and while Town may bemoan some bad runs of the green the fact is that Weymouth certainly didn’t require lady luck on their side.

Tiverton started with two changes to the team that had won against Taunton; Kevin Hill replaced David Steele in midfield and Michael Nardiello started up front alongside Joe Bushin as Owen Howe dropped to the bench. But before these changes even had a chance to show benefits the net had already bulged. The build-up was controversial as Smith appeared to handle the ball as he took control of a raking cross-field pass, but the referee signalled for the game to continue and Smith promptly won a corner as he came off best in his first head-to-head battle against Josh Concanen. The corner was deep and nodded back across goal at the far post where Groves was on hand to hook the ball past Chris Wright, so Tivvy restarted from the centre spot rather than restarting the game with a free kick out on their right. Eyewitnesses would remain bemused for half an hour until it became clear the referee’s interpretation of what constituted a hand ball was some distance from the judgement of the average supporter…

For the next fifteen minutes Weymouth were well in control of the game and Tiverton struggled to retain possession. Too often for the purists the Yellows were forced to hit long balls down the line from the fullback positions, unable to gain a foothold and slow the tempo in deep positions. Invariably that meant the ball being cut out by the Weymouth central defenders and a next onslaught beginning, with the Terras’ able to build from the back as they were afforded space but Tivvy’s deep-lying midfield who were unable to get forward quickly enough.

There were a few chances, particularly for Tiverton, but the game was too-often punctuated by the referee’s whistle. And that is no criticism at all of Mr. Knight from Waterlooville, rather an illustration of how Tivvy played the game. One of the main reasons Weymouth didn’t create a great deal was due to the fact that when the got to within forty yards of goal they were tripped, pushed or kicked and had to begin again with a free kick. Josh Searle picked up a booking for one such challenge on Smith, and in his protestations Weymouth midfielder Danny Clay, not a guy that has ever been backwards in coming forwards, was also cautioned, presumably believing that a Kevin Hill tackle should have been punished by more than a free kick.

From one of several set-piece situations that Stephen Reed was able to curl into the box Weymouth came within inches of doubling their lead. This time it was Tom Gardner who was penalised as he wrestled Ben Joyce to the ground, and Reed’s delivery was flicked on with just a fraction too much power so Kyle Critchell’s arrival at the far post was a millisecond too late. Earlier Smith had fired in a free kick which Wright saved and held well, while at the other end Simon Evans stood up well to deny Nardiello who had been put through into a one-on-one situation thanks to a finely weighted pass from Andy Taylor. The Opportunity count might have suggested that Weymouth were hanging on a bit but that really wasn’t the case, although they did need to use every ounce of their defensive capabilities to come out unscathed from one Lewis Tasker corner, won ironically after Harry Nodwell had handled in the build up only for the offence to go unpunished! Tasker’s deep cross was headed goalwards by Kevin Hill and in a congested area took a number of deflections as Nardiello battled with Smith and Barry McConnell, the latter finally hoofing the ball away from danger.

Weymouth had a good number of corners and free kicks in and around the Tivvy area, mainly thanks to the efforts of Smith who quite simply had Concanen’s number, and the frustration running through the Tiverton team at their inability to string much together was too evident when Kendall was booked for a foul on Craig Duff, joined in the book by Nardiello who arrived late on the imperious Critchell and slid through the Weymouth defender needlessly when it seemed Tivvy were going to win a throw-in in an attacking position.

It looked ominous in the opening minute of the second half when Smith decided to go for another run but Tivvy were saved by the timely intervention of the crossbar, but the pattern was still much the same in the match as a whole and Harry Nodwell became the fourth Tiverton player to see the yellow card when he clumsily tripped Clay. It meant another break in play and that suited Weymouth perfectly as they were happy to keep hold of the ball until such time as they could feed it into wide areas and to the feet of either Smith or Duff, or on rarer occasions to Joyce who had an increasing tendency to pull out towards the right wing. Town’s best chance to get back into the game, therefore, was on the counter attack, and in the fifty-sixth minute they also did exactly that. Nardiello almost got away down the right, some cries from the Tiverton fans for his to shoot were overlooked as Scott Walker tracked back and created enough pressure for Nards to cross into the area, and another game of pinball ensued before Tasker eventually got a shot away which was blocked by Ed Palmer.

That was a typical outcome for Tivvy attacks – a promising move down one flank or the other but the ball never really sitting nicely at the end of it all. A Tasker centre was beautifully cut out by Critchell, the same player also intercepted from Nardiello as Bushin lurked and would otherwise have had an easy finish, and later a shot from Bushin took a deflection onto the post, although in truth Evans would have been able to save easily had the ball been on target. It is these kind of chances that some say justified Tiverton’s “unlucky? tag throughout the afternoon; there are two other ways of looking at it: the final delivery wasn’t quite good enough, or that Weymouth defended very well indeed. I prefer option three.

With seventeen minutes to go and with the Yellows now down to ten men after Kendall had picked up a second booking for a late foul on Reed Weymouth made the game safe. Attacking on the right the ball was worked across the face of the penalty area and Smith, by some distance the most effective player on the pitch, curled in a delightful shot with his right instep that left poor Wright with no chance as the ball found the top corner of the net. It was a goal fully deserved by Smith and it effective ended the game as a contest although Tiverton did respond with their best move of the game which involved seven players and ended with substitute Owen Howe blazing a shot high, wide and into the terrace behind the goal.

There were a couple more wild and hopeful shots but nothing that threatened Evans’ goal: Taylor over the bar, Tasker over the bar, and then Tasker again, this time over not only the bar but the stand. So that left Weymouth to round things off nicely with a third goal, a well taken header by Ford from Joyce’s cross from the right. And it could have been four in the final minute when Hill and Wright almost contrived to allow Smith in, the Tiverton goalkeeper eventually managing to scramble the ball away for a corner.

How Tiverton react is now the important thing. As well as they played in very short spells they were lacking any real incision and Evans only made one save in the whole match. In contrast Wright saved three and failed to save three more, and that sums up the difference between the two sides. Goal-shy yes, shot shy no, but accuracy from distance and the ability to work the ball into more threatening positions was Tiverton’s downfall, as well as a disappointing return to some of the cynical play that was a feature of the team’s game in the latter years of Martyn Rogers’ reign as manager. The players are better than that, better than how they performed and better than most teams in their own Division. With focus now firmly on the league they must dust themselves down and get back to the kind of form that saw them undefeated in six games before the visit to Weymouth.

Weymouth: Simon Evans, Barry McConnell, Scott Walker, Stephen Reed, Kyle Critchell, Ed Palmer, Craig Duff (Lewis Clarke 76), Danny Clay, Ben Joyce, Matt Groves (Mark Ford 69), Dan Smith
Goals: Groves 4, Smith 73, Ford 89
Booked: Duff 17, Clay 25, Ford 78
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Lewis Tasker, Kevin Hill, Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, Andy Taylor, Harry Nodwell (David Steele 69), Michael Nardiello (Owen Howe 73), Joe Bushin, Josh Searle (Alex Faux 85)
Booked: Searle 30, Kendall 39, 60, Nardiello 44, Nodwell 53
Sent off: Kendall 60

Attendance: 402

This report ©2012 Alan Reidy