Match report

Swindon Supermarine 2 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 27/10/2012   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

Tiverton have played almost one-thousand minutes of football against Swindon Supermaine, and in all of that time the Yellows have been leading for eight of them. That just about sums up what a curse Supermaine hold on Tivvy, and to further accentuate the point over five-hundred minutes of playing time elapsed between Sam Malsom’s tap-in in a 2-1 defeat in December 2009 and Alex Faux’s strike in the very same goal in the most recent encounter between the two sides. Yes, Swindon are the new Crawley as far as Tiverton are concerned, and with the Wiltshite side starting to find a little form there were always under-riding feelings of mild trepidation despite the positive start to the season enjoyed by Town.

There was, however, good news with the return to the team of captain Paul Kendall following a two-match suspension, and the return to form of Jules Emati-Emati, so this pair accounted for the two changes to the side that had beaten Cinderford a week earlier with Adam Faux and his crooked nose dropping to the bench while Michael Nardiello was once again unavailable. Otherwise it was as you were: no Andy Taylor, Josh Searle once again amongst the substitutes, and Alex Faux retaining his place on the left wing with David Steele on the opposite side flanking Kevin Hill and Russell Jee.

The game was played out cautiously in the early stages with Tiverton settling quicker and able to move the ball around comfortably. The low tempo adopted by the hosts helped and was almost at their own cost when Joe Bushin got a shot away inside the first thirty seconds as he latched onto a through ball from Emati-Emati and stung the hands of Swindon goalkeeper Kent Kauppinen. Supermarine survived this early scare when they eventually managed to scramble the ball clear but they were unable to retain possession as Tivvy pressed readily in midfield and refused to allow ’Marine any time on the ball. Indeed, Swindon had to rely on counter attacks almost throughout the first hour of the game, but they did look dangerous, particularly as the Tiverton backline pressed further forward in an attempt to condense the play.

A twelfth minute corner for the Yellows saw Kauppinen pat the ball partially clear, but Steele’s attempted chip back into the box was blocked and that gave Swindon their first opportunity to race forward at pace, and it was only a poor final ball from Dan Hilder which saw the move break down. Moments earlier Ashley Edenborough was also able to get upfield quickly, and when he was upended by Tom Gardner Josh Parsons could only hammer a free kick miles over the top. Nevertheless Tivvy were defending well on the whole, bar a couple of occasions when they were stretched, and Supermarine certainly didn’t look like breaking through if they ever had bodies between themselves and goal, and that forced Sam Morris into taking the overly-optimistic step of trying a spectacular drive from well outside the box which ended up with him scuffing his shot horribly so that the ball barely crossed the line for a goal kick, some ten yards wide of the target.

There were two significant features to Tiverton’s play in the first half: Josh Concanen was getting plenty of airtime as he pushed forward from the right-back position, particularly causing problems for Hilder who was either unwilling or unable to pick up his man; and secondly Kendall showed a keenness to step out of defence with the ball, and although none of his forward surges ever amounted to any real danger it was certainly a notable tactic, and one which also brought back memories of the mistake he made at Ladysmead which led to Shortwood’s goal a month earlier. No such problems this time though with Hill dropping in to cover when required.

Tivvy took the lead in the thirty-third minute and certainly deserved it at that stage as they had been significantly the more positive side. Emati-Emati initiated the crucial attack when he chased and did extremely well to keep the ball in play on the right touchline, and Concanen had typically pelted forward and then drifted infield to offer support. Jules was able to cut the ball back and Concanen, just inside the corner of the penalty area received the pass from wide and chipped the ball diagonally behind the Swindon defence towards the far post. It was a perfectly placed cross (or was it perhaps a mishit shot?!) which dissected the space between defence and goalkeeper and allowed Alex Faux to steal in unmarked to place the ball past Kauppinen.

And that was Tivvy ahead against Swindon for the first time since the first ever meeting between the clubs when Lewis Irish scored his second of the game close to full time. But it was a lead the Yellows retained from only a little over a minute as Swindon hit back straight from the kick-off. A long and straight ball from their own half managed to split Kendall and Gardner and left Chris Wright with no choice but to sprint forward and try and smother on the edge of the area. He got there just a fraction of a second ahead of Parsons but couldn’t hold on and parried straight into the path of the supporting Edenborough, Swindon’s top scorer having the easiest of tasks to roll the ball into an unguarded net from twenty yards out. So that was that, a lack of concentration in the defensive line, a rare moment when the midfield failed to press sufficiently, and it was just the invite the home side needed. They have always been quick up top, they still are, and they made it count.

The first half then frittered away with a lack of pattern, now perfectly balanced and significantly more even than it had been for the opening half an hour, with both left-backs blazing over the top, Lewis Tasker for Tiverton and then Jon Steedman for ’Marine, and when Swindon failed to do anything particularly exciting from a late corner conceded by Gardner in the midst of a slight breakdown of communications it was high time for a fifteen minute break, needed to recharge batteries which seemed to be dying at both ends of the pitch.

Again Tivvy had the better of things as the game restarted, and the first twenty minutes of the second half could have seen the Yellows out of sight had there been a tad more composure in front of goal. It was also this phase in the game which led to Supermarine boss Dave Webb conceding at the full-time whistle that he felt his side got away with more than perhaps they deserved. Magnanimous and overflowing with humility perhaps, but that is an easy trait to express when you have just won the game. Swindon were indeed perhaps a little fortunate to still be on level terms as the game reached its climax; Kevin Hill twice arrived at the near post and planted the ball the wrong side of the upright, firstly from an Emati-Emati cross following some fine dribbling exploits from the striker out on the right and then a well-placed cross, and then a few minutes later a header from Tasker’s corner. Bushin headed just wide as Tasker, after a poor individual first half performance raised his game considerably and became much more of a threat, clipping in an early cross from the left, while Jules himself had the best chance of the bunch when he sprinted clear only to see his shot pushed away by the reliably solid Kauppinen. In the sixty-seventh minute Faux headed straight at the Swindon goalkeeper and that brought to an end a period of domination that garnered nothing in terms of goals.

From there it was as if Supermarine suddenly realised they were still in the hunt. They had rode their luck a little, had remained level, and quickly found another gear or three as the match became more fractious. Jee had enjoyed a very solid game in midfield for Tiverton but was lucky to get away with just a ticking off when he lashed out at Parsons, and to the audible chagrin of the home support Hilder then picked up the first booking of the game for a rather innocuous challenge on Concanen. It was Hilder’s last action as he was immediately replaced and Jee soon made his way to the bench too, perhaps an indication that he was living on borrowed time. But his replacement Harry Nodwell took just five minutes to pick up a yellow card when he arrived late into a challenge, and Swindon were by now in the driving seat.

Kendall lunged in aggressively and had he met some of the player as well as all of the ball it would have been a red card and a penalty; as it was the referee deemed the tackle fair and Sam Morris rifled the loose ball just wide of Wright’s post, and in the next wave Gardner had to execute a perfect saving block as Edenborough prepared to pounce at the near post. Ten minutes to go. Five to go and a rare Tivvy attack saw Nodwell let one fly and Kauppinen stretch up and to his right to tip the ball over the bar. Two minutes to play and Supermarine continued to attack as the Tiverton defence dropped deeper and deeper and struggled to bring those ahead of them into the game. Down the left with Jamie Prictor, half cleared, and now down the right. Parsons, brilliant in the second half found space and crossed hard and low, Edennborough smuggled himself in front of his marker, met the delivery and smashed the ball into the net from three yards. Swindon had done it and the intensity of their attacking will merited it. For all Tivvy’s decent play the Yellows had lacked the killer instinct that the home side showed when it mattered. Parson’s almost added his name to the scoresheet in the final minute of the game but Wright made a great save, but for Supermaine it didn’t matter.

Swindon Supermaine: Kent Kauppinen, Chris Smith, Jon Steedman, Craig Curtis, Kyle Lapham, Chris Taylor, Sam Morris, Rob Dean (Dave Bampton 46), Ashley Edenborough, Josh Parsons, Dan Hilder (Jamie Prictor 71)
Goals: Edenborough 34, 88
Booked: Hilder 71, Taylor 90+2
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Lewis Tasker, Kevin Hill, Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, David Steele (Josh Searle 52), Russell Jee (Harry Nodwell 71), Alex Faux, Joe Bushin, Jules Emati-Emati (Max Bristow 90+3)
Goal: Faux 33
Booked: Nodwell 76
Sent off: None

Attendance: 115

This report ©2012 Alan Reidy