Match report

Mangotsfield United 2 - 2 Tiverton Town

   Monday 05/11/2012   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

November 5th it may have been but there were few fireworks on the pitch at Cossham Street as Mangotsfield and Tiverton played out a 2-2 draw high in desire but low in quality. It was level at the start, level at the break, and level at the end, and it was hard to make a strong case that either side really deserved more than a point, but it is testament to how far the Yellows have come in the past year that they would have left Bristol slightly disappointed they were unable to wrap up a third consecutive league victory.

It wasn’t for the lack of trying, and towards the end of the night Mangotsfield had goalkeeper Kevin Sawyer to thank for keeping Tivvy at bay, but there were periods of the game where the home side were stronger, and they too could have won the match had fortune favoured them in certain moments. That it didn’t and that it also refused to tip the balance in Tiverton’s favour might point to a higher force insisting that equilibrium is required in nature and life, so Mangotsfield continued their curious start to the season which has seen them fail to win any of their opening six home games, and they will be just as disappointed as Tivvy with a game drawn which could have been won.

It was a very cautious affair from the off with neither side ready to expand and look to be as creative as they could be, and the first goal, which arrived in the eighteenth minute, came from the first shot on target by either side. By then there really was little to report: a clash of heads left Joe Bushin upright but a little bruised while Mangos defender Lee Marshall required attention from the physio, and this stoppage of two minutes was strangely not accounted for in a first half that lasted two seconds short of the normal forty-five minutes. A few minutes later there might have been a half-chance when Marshall’s clearance was charged down but Kevin Hill’s delivery sailed across goal and behind and the crowd were left to keep themselves warm by means other than excitement and adrenaline.

Then came the breakthrough as Mangotsfield won a corner on the right which Tivvy defended by clearing back out towards the wing on the near side of the ground. Neil Arndale crossed the ball again and it was weighted perfectly for Marcus Duharty to sneak in at the near post and powerfully head the ball beyond Chris Wright. It was a very basic goal to score, an annoying one to concede, but at least it kickstarted the match into some sort of life after a very uninteresting opening.

Duharty threatened again just two minutes later as he dribbled through the inside-left channel and into the penalty area but Paul Kendall made the challenge and was able to clear before the goalscorer could set up the lurking Ben Hunt. And from that point Tiverton finally pulled themselves together and began to make advances of their own. It led to the second shot of the game and immediately the third which saw the ball in the net again. David Steele, who had played most of the early stages of the match on the left, was able to cross into the box, and for reasons only known to himself Nick Dunn handled as he attempted to clear. No hesitation from the referee, no complaints from Dunn or his buddies, and Bushin placed the ball on the spot, hammered a shot towards goal, and Sawyer saved. But Sawyer couldn’t hold on so Bushin, alert like the in-form goalscorer that he is, quickly raced forward and hammered the ball into the roof of the net from six or seven yards out.

There were three further chances in the first half for Mangotsfield to reclaim the lead, all from defensive errors of a greater or lesser degree. Lewis Tasker’s under-hit pass was intercepted and Aaron Hopkinson’s low cross was eventually scrambled away; a counter attack down the right ended when Duharty struck a shot straight at Wright, the Tivvy ’keeper saving and holding; and finally a free kick awarded when Kendall pulled back Hunt was chipped over the wall and again it was comfortable for Wright. For Tivvy just one shot, from Nardiello as he wriggled free on the right and cut inside having picked up on a long throw from Steele (now on the other wing), and Sawyer was down quickly enough to help the ball out for a corner at the near post.

Duharty may have been Mangotsfield’s main threat in the first half but he was replaced at the interval by Josh Klein-Davis, and pretty much all of the home side’s attacking focus thereafter came down their left wing. It was from this area that the third goal of the game arrived and again it was simple in its making and excellent in its execution. Hunt was both the architect and the scorer as he cut in from the wing, jinked past Josh Concanen, and once in place hit an unstoppable shot from a tight angle which Wright was simply unable to deal with. So again Tivvy were chasing the game, and could have been chasing merely to reduce the arrears had Klein-Davies pulled the trigger when Hunt and Hopkinson combined to cut a cross back. The shot never came in as Tom Gardner was able to close down the Mangos sub with the ball refusing to settle on the bumpy surface.

Ten minutes of nothing followed but Tiverton were understandably at this stage more eager to try and get the ball forward, and in the fifty-ninth minute they finally opened up the home defence as Josh Searle escaped down the right. He didn’t have much time due to the presence there or thereabouts of Shaun Lamb, but he required just one touch to whip in a cross which was perfectly directed across the six yard box between the centre-backs and goalkeeper. Crosses such as these are exactly what Bushin thrives off, and indeed it was he who met the ball and headed on target. Like Tivvy’s first goal things weren’t straightforward as again Sawyer saved, this time by tipping the ball onto the crossbar, but again Bushin reacted quicker than anyone else, threw himself forward and forced the ball over the line on the rebound.

It was now Mangotsfield’s turn to attack and they saw two openings go begging, first a lob from Hunt that drifted just wide, and then a Klein-Davies shot following a corner which Wright saved by helping the ball over the bar. The corner that followed was headed over by Ryan Bennett and the game drifted on with very little goalmouth action until the final ten minutes. By now Tiverton had forced their way into the ascendency and three times came within a whisker of nicking all three points, but Sawyer refused to budge and completed every task that was asked of him. First up was a save with his feet that denied Searle after substitute Jules Emati-Emati and played a neat through-ball for the winger to run onto; then a tasty shot from Emati-Emati which was palmed away at full stretch; and once Kendall had headed over a cross from Steele the United goalkeeper again came up trumps to make a fine stop from Searle once more.

Thus it ended all square and that is just about as fair a reflection as possible on a game which saw both teams intend to attack but ultimately lack the quality and decisiveness to make the difference. Tivvy stay second in the table with points in the bag from games played. Four teams have enough in hand to move above the Yellows but such speculation is not hugely important at this stage of the season. A point away from home is good on the face of it; a point against a team who have yet to win at home doesn’t sound so clever. By the end of April we will know how important this point is, until then let’s just enjoy the fact that Town are in amongst the front runners for a change.

Mangotsfield United: Kevin Sawyer, Neil Arndale, Shaun Lamb, Lee Marshall, Ryan Bennett, Matt Thorne, Kyle Tooze, Nick Dunn, Ben Hunt, Marcus Duharty (Josh Klein-Davies 46), Aaron Hopkinson (Leroy Swaby 78)
Goals: Duharty 18, Hunt 47
Booked: Dunn 68, Tooze 85
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Lewis Tasker, Kevin Hill, Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, David Steele, Russell Jee (Harry Nodwell 64), Michael Nardiello (Dave Pearse 68), Joe Bushin (Jules Emati-Emati 75), Josh Searle
Goals: Bushin 24, 58
Booked: Bushin 27, Nodwell 74
Sent off: None

Attendance: 137

This report ©2012 Alan Reidy