Match report

Cirencester Town 1 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 10/11/2012   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

Benjamin Franklin said there were two certainties in life: death and taxes. He forgot about the third certainty which is that it will be cold and windy in Cirencester, and another Tiverton visit to the Corinium Stadium required gloves, scarves and extra layers to fend off the ubiquitous chills that inhabit this little corner of the Cotswolds. Almost as certain is that the Yellows struggle to come to terms with both the conditions and the surroundings, so it was pleasing that on their latest visit Tivvy gained a point; it certainly wasn’t two points lost, particularly in light of the closing stages of the game which saw the home side do everything but score a winning goal.

Tiverton showed three changes to the team which drew at Mangotsfield as Kevin Hill and Josh Searle dropped to the bench and Michael Nardiello’s ongoing irregular availability meant chances from the start for Harry Nodwell and Dave Pearse, with Alex Faux returning to the side on the left wing. By far the most effective of these changes was the introduction of Nodwell, and for the first forty-five minutes, a half that Tivvy marginally edged on balance, he was excellent in the heart of the midfield. Better still was Josh Concanen who was able to benefit from the space created by Cirencester’s wingback system, but elsewhere there was a particular lack of cohesion so chances were rare if not completely absent.

Tiverton’s rigid 4-4-2 formation takes no explaining, but up against Cirencester’s back three it made for an interesting tactical match-up. In theory 3-5-2 should always win against 4-4-2 – Ciren had a spare man defensively and also a five versus four in midfield, or if you want to take the wide men out of the equation a three versus two advantage. On one side of the pitch the home side were in control – Lewis Tasker was seldom able to get forward beyond the half way line with any purpose while Alex Allard did an excellent job in stifling any threat from Faux, but in contrast the Tiverton right certainly favoured the Yellows and Concanen’s directness combined with Nodwell and David Steele using the ball intelligently meant Ellis Dunton had his work cut out.

And we can all remember how, when Tivvy used wingbacks in a classic way, the formation became predictable and therefore redundant. Cirencester occasionally reverted to a long-ball game, but they did so with purpose and Shane Bumphey proved to be a willing runner up front as he kept the pressure on Tom Gardner when balls were sent sailing over the midfield. They also had the benefit of the very assured and always-impressive Ben Wells pulling the strings in the middle, so passing through the centre remained an option and that meant Tiverton had to be switched on to opponents who were a lot more than one-dimensional.

Tivvy rode their luck at times, no more so than when Matt Sysum launched a long one and Bumphey latched on only to lob the ball a few feet wide of the target with Chris Wright caught betwixt and between, not knowing whether to dash from his area to cut out the pass or stand his ground and hope that Gardner was able to clear things up. Neither happened and Bumphey was unlucky in the end. Chris Thompson had also failed to bring his shooting boots and twice in the first half sent shots from distance over the top; both coming after long throw-ins from Dunton had been headed clear but not completely swept up.

All the while Tiverton eased their way into the game after a sluggish start and by the time there were fifteen minutes on the clock they began to take hold of proceedings. Faux won a corner off Allard and Steele’s delivery proved difficult to clear which allowed Paul Kendall to swivel and crash a shot against the foot of the post, and soon afterwards Nodwell got beneath the ball and lifted his effort just a fraction too high, again with Steele and Kendall involved. But it was Concanen that was causing the most problems in open play and one fine run saw him freed on the right as Pearse and Steele worked the ball wide; JC’s delivery was teasing and finally hacked behind at the far post as Joe Bushin lurked. The corner that followed amounted to nothing but soon Concanen was at it again, this time set on his way by Nodwell, and this time his cross towards the far post was turned into the net by Bushin at the second time of asking, the original shot having been blocked by Sysum.

The goal signalled the end of Tiverton’s spell on top, a spell of around twenty minutes, and it was refreshing that they were able to make it count where, a year ago even more dominant periods would have passed without reward. But soon enough it was honours even in balance and also in goals as Cirencester arrested the flow and began to make headway of their own. Sysum won a corner when he bombed forward from defence – not quite like Beckenbauer but nonetheless impressive – and Wells ended the attack with a shot that rose up and over the bar after his initial cross had been blocked back out to the wing. Then, on the stroke of half time the equaliser arrived. Bumphey broke free on the counter attack through the inside right channel, moved the ball across the edge of the penalty area, and, aided when Nodwell slipped, Dunton was in plenty of space to drive a low shot beyond Wright. The PA announcer pointed out how happy Ellis’s mother was with the goal, “I’m so proud?, she quipped in! Tempting fate? Not at all as it turned out, just a rather strange side-note to the afternoon.

In the second half Tiverton had three chances with vary degrees of threat. Eight minutes after the restart Nodwell crossed and Bushin headed what was a very difficult chance wide of the target; on seventy-three minutes Jules Emati-Emati was in on goal as he powered forward to reach a through-ball from fellow substitute Andy Taylor, but Lee Clatworthy stood up well in goal for Cirencester to make a strong save; then with nine minutes of regulation time to play another near-assist from Taylor as his cross was turned a foot the wrong side of the post by Bushin sliding in and onside by a hair’s breadth. Otherwise the Yellows offered very little going forward and Concanen faded from the game while nobody else, with the exception of Taylor, really stepped up to take the responsibility.

Maybe it was because Cirencester were much more purposeful – they were a different team in the second half and did everything in their power in the midfield areas to win the game only for their strikers to do everything in their power not to score. Their first chance of the second period fell not to a striker but to Jamie Reid, and he headed wide at the near post despite being unmarked. Then Wells shot and saw Wright save following a sloppy pass from Concanen which was easily cut out, and next in line was Sam Collier as he broke away having benefitted from a hideous error of judgement by Gardner, but one-on-one with Wright it was the Tivvy glovesman who won the duel with a crucial fingertip which took the ball away from goal. Wells maintained possession but by the time he was able to regain his bearing there were yellows shirts back in force and his shot cannoned off Kendall’s legs before being hacked away.

There were three lengthy stoppages in the second half, the most enduring when Wright required treatment for a facial wound, then also for Allard who needed quick attention having taken the full force of a Nodwell piledriver. Allard’s reaction looked worrying as he lay on the floor and shuddered as if having a seizure, but happily he was soon back on his feet, although immediately substituted. All in all it meant eight additional minutes and those minutes belonged emphatically to Cirencester. The ball was worked into the box, pumped into the box, crossed into the box – you name it they tried it. And about flew yellow-clad legs and bodies, Kendall particularly, also Gardner, and to emphasise just how defensive Tivvy needed to be in the closing stages, even Emati-Emati came up with a shot-saving interception. That one in particular led to quickly-muted cries for a penalty, and on the basis that the referee seemed to have been appointed simply to annoy everybody it was anyone’s guess what his decision would be. He decision, it turned out was nothing. From his point of view the easy choice – he had already made enough of a fool of himself without risking getting such a big decision wrong. Was it a penalty? Judging by the reaction of the Cirencester players probably not.

The ninety-eighth and last minute. Tiverton can barely get the ball across the half way line let alone get any bodies into the opposition half of the pitch. Cirencester attack down the left and the ball is forced through the area to Collier who is waiting unmarked on the corner of the goal area. Not the penalty area, the goal area. Six yards out, six yards wide of the post. There isn’t anybody in front of him except Wright who is moving across his line. There is nobody closing him down, at least not quickly enough to hurry the shot. So Collier pulls the trigger, the ball is heading for the top corner… But the top corner of what? The top corner of the netting behind the goal that prevents the ball from leaving the ground. In the nicest possible way it was an absolutely awful miss, and it was little wonder that he lay on the grass wishing for a Collier-sized crack to appear and swallow him up. Wright pumped the goal kick beyond the halfway line, a final Cirencester attack broke down, and Tivvy were relieved to hear the final whistle.

Cirencester Town: Lee Clatworthy, Alex Allard (Aiden Bennett 82), Ellis Dunton, Matt Sysum, Ben Wells, Jon Beeden, Jamie Reid, Liam O’Brien, Sam Collier, Shane Bumphey, (Sam Packer 80), Chris Thompson
Goal: Dunton 45
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Lewis Tasker, Harry Nodwell, Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, David Steele (Andy Taylor 61), Russell Jee (Josh Searle 56), Dave Pearse (Jules Emati-Emati 61), Joe Bushin, Alex Faux
Goal: Bushin 32
Booked: Kendall 57
Sent off: None

Attendance: 97

This report ©2012 Alan Reidy