Match report

Merthyr 0 - 3 Tiverton Town

   Tuesday 30/10/2012   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

Tiverton underlined their label as genuine promotion candidates when they came, saw and conquered Merthyr Town, the Welsh reincarnation of the former Southern League greats Merthyr Tydfil. In truth the final score, 0-3 to the Yellows, was somewhat flattering, but it went a long way to underlining how clinical Town were in front of goal, and how prepared they were to throw their defensive bodies on the line. It could have been 2-0 at half time, instead it was 0-2, and victory sees Tivvy just a couple of points off the top of the table.

Tiverton showed just one change to the team that lost at Swindon Supermarine with new recruit Dave Pearse being given the opportunity from the start and Jules Emati-Emati dropping to the bench. But Pearse would have to wait a little longer than expected to make his bow as floodlight issues caused the kick off to be delayed and in fact severely jeopardised the match taking place at all. But the techies did their thing, and although two lights on the far side of the pitch refused to kick into action we were underway at shortly after 8.30.

And Tivvy were flying; Alex Faux down the line to Pearse, Pearse with a little cut back inside to Lewis Tasker, and almost a decent cross at the end of it all but in the end a little too close to Merthyr goalkeeper Giles Cutlan. The Yellows looked strong in those early stages with a lot of the attacking focus down the left side of the pitch which was also the fully illuminated side of the pitch, but Merthyr were able to stand firm enough and slowly force their way not only into the match but by the fifteenth minute also with the upper hand.

Twice in the space of five minutes they came close to opening the scoring; first a scramble in the area after an attack down the right saw Jamie Rewbury loop a header across goal and over Chris Wright, but Kevin Hill leapt to nod the ball away just before it dropped into the net; then a dangerous ball in from the right via Matthew Harris forced Wright to pat the ball away but without suitable distance, allowing Alun Griffiths to follow up with a low drive which deflected off Tom Gardner and straight at Wright.

They weren’t the only times Merthyr almost scored in the first half as Tiverton rode their luck at times. Gardner and Russell Jee combined to clear another one off the line as the Yellows struggled to deal with Ryan Newman’s corner, and five minutes before the break Gardner was remarkably there in the right place at the right time once again to deny Nathan Davies. And that chance was the best of the lot as initially Wright had done brilliantly to save from Newman after the Merthyr forward had raced clear onto a smart through ball from Gary Colbourne, and even when the first chance went begging it still looked like Davies would be able to finish things off.

It wasn’t to be Merthyr’s evening, clearly, and by the time Newman and Davies contrived to miss the home side were already trailing thanks to a wonderful strike from Joe Bushin. There wasn’t really anything particular about the build up – the ball was in and around the midfield, moving back and forth as it does, and then it just seemed to sit up nicely thirty yards out, and Bushin swung his left leg, made perfect contact and sent the ball sailing over Cutlan and into the top far corner of the net. As out of the blue goals go, this was definitely one of them, and a damn good one at that!

There then followed frustration as Ian Traylor, supposedly Merthyr’s star player but largely anonymous all evening, swiped his arm out at Faux and picked up the first yellow card of the evening, and a couple of minutes before the break he was joined by Cutlan in what was the point in the match that truly tipped the balance in favour of Tivvy. Again the move was in the brightest part of the pitch down the left win, and again it involved Pearse and Faux, the former releasing the latter with a clever reverse pass. Alex was away, well clear of anyone who might have thought of chasing him (former Tivvy defender Andrew Thomas should have been the man, but his significant increase in weight gave him no chance when it came to going toe-to-toe with just about anyone except perhaps a penguin), and strode into the box. Out came Cutlan, past him went the ball, and over his outstretched arm went Faux. There was no hesitation by the referee as he blew and pointed to the spot, and Bushin did the rest with a confident placed finish from twelve yards.

That was that for the first half with the exception of a shot by Harris which drifted just a few feet over and a few feet wide, and there wasn’t really a great deal to get excited about in the early stages of the second half as Tivvy were able to contain their hosts with relative ease, the Yellows strong at the back and able to force the ball into wide positions. They were also defending from the front and Bushin’s workrate was exceptional while David Steele and Jee in midfield never let the game settle when the ball was with the Martyrs. One rare cross that Merthyr did manage to get in found Ryan Prosser but the big man could only head the ball straight at Wright, and that was the last time the Tivvy ’keeper need to use his hands, bar a save late in the game that was just as easy.

What Wright did do with almost unbounded aplomb was punt a free kick from midway inside his own half that forced his opposite number to backpedal hastily in order to pluck from the air. That was cheeky, and Bushin, maybe still enjoying dreams of the overhead kick he scored last month decided to try it again as the game approached the final half-hour. This time he missed the ball completely and crumpled to the ground like Bambi and Merthyr promptly messed up the clearance. That may have been because Bushin, lying on his side, swung out a boot and once more completely missed the ball, this time catching Colborne’s shins. Remarkably no free kick, and so steaming in came Jee, one beautifully clean strike of the ball later and the net was rippling again. Nil-three and that would prove to be plenty enough.

Merthyr were infuriated that the goal was allowed to stand and their boss was sent to the stands as he protested, but on the pitch they just about kept their cool, but they also kept their lack of penetration against a Yellows wall that refused to budge. Ten minutes from time Paul Kendall was cautioned as he chopped down substitute Luke Jones on the edge of the box, but the free kick was pelted straight into the wall and Rewbury then clumsily fouled Jee when trying to latch onto the follow-up, leaving Jee on the deck and his own name in the referee’s little black book.

There was still time for a rather vociferous penalty appeal from the home side, an appeal mainly from the stands as Jones once again got forward, crossed towards the penalty spot and was seemingly caught late by Concanen. This time the man in the middle was unmoved, and even if he had been, and even if Merthyr had scored the penalty it wouldn’t have gone too far in disguising the fact that this was a rather straightforward and uncomplicated victory for Tiverton.

Merthyr Town: Giles Cutlan, Matthew Harris (Jason Welsh 63), Alun Griffiths, Andrew Thomas, Gary Colbourne, Jamie Rewbury, Nathan Davies, Kris Leek (Luke Jones 78), Ryan Prosser, Ryan Newman (Marcus Griffiths, 63), Ian Traylor
Booked: Traylor 35, Cutlan 42, Alun Griffiths 75, Rewbury 82
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Lewis Tasker (Harry Nodwell 86), Kevin Hill, Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, David Steele (Josh Searle 73), Russell Jee, Dave Pearse (Jules Emati-Emati 89), Joe Bushin, Alex Faux
Goals: Bushin 29, 43p, Jee 59
Booked: Kendall 81
Sent off: None

Attendance: 337

This report ©2012 Alan Reidy