Match report

Tiverton Town 2 - 2 Evesham United

   Saturday 15/12/2012   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

There was something rather perverse about Tom Cross celebrating Evesham’s late equaliser at Ladysmead. As Jamie Hyde found the bottom corner so the United goalkeeper bellowed out in joy, aiming his unbridled delight in a menacing manner towards the Tivvy supporters behind his goal. Of course he was delighted to have seen his side come back from two goals behind in the final fifteen minutes of the game, and Hyde’s goal went some way to appeasing the horrendous error Cross made for Tivvy’s second goal. On the other hand, had Evesham’s left back not struck deep into added time then Cross’s mistake would have cost Evesham one point; that late goal effectively meant his complete miskick had in fact denied the Robins two points.

Such are the fine margins of football, and that is why we keep coming back. Nothing is certain. If every game fell in favour of the better team then there is no way Evesham would have been in with a shout as the game reached its conclusion. Tiverton were dominant for all of the first half and most of the second, yet they could only score two goals thanks to a combination of less-that-clinical finishing coupled with some fortuitous (or perhaps excellent last-gasp) defending. Evesham just about held on in there and earned their reward; Tiverton were left to rue just a small number of mistakes.

The first half was goalless but midway through it the Yellows could easily have been out of sight as chance after chance went begging in one way or the other, chronologically thus: a David Steele header cleared off the line by Leigh Downing; an Alex Faux shot that sailed over the top following a penetrating run from the Tiverton winger; a screamed from Josh Concanen that flew wide and only just evaded Joe Bushin as the striker thrust foreword a foot in the hope of diverting the ball past Cross; another chance from Bushin, this time hacked off the line by Marcus Palmer; a shot from Faux that was goalbound but blocked by the arm of Matt Sysum (but at quarters so close as to invalidate any realistic claims for a penalty) and then a follow-up hit weakly by Dave Pearse; another attempt by Faux as Martin Hutchcox only half-cleared a long Taylor free kick, this time the crossbar coming to Evesham’s rescue; and finally a difficult chance for Taylor, presented when Faux battled keenly to get past Hutchcox and pull the ball back from the by-line.

Certainly Evesham had ridden their luck and they were still in the game despite offering very little in the way of forward movement. The highly-rated Palmer was mostly anonymous despite two low shots on target that Chris Wright had to save, the second by stretching down to his right, but his strike partner Carl Brown did show glimpses of class with some impressive dribbling and direct running. Brown was able to stretch the Tiverton defence on occasions as the Yellows pressed high up the pitch, and even though there was no end product there were certainly warning signs, and therefore maybe some justification in the more cautious approach adopted by Tivvy after two goals at the start of the second half.

Both of Tiverton’s goals came from defensive errors, and significantly after Jamal Clarke had been withdrawn at half time, forcing Evesham to reshuffle their back line. Sysum was the first to err when he failed to cut out a long ball and that allowed Pearse to get in behind and tee up Bushin. Cross saved the first shot from Tivvy’s top scorer but at point-blank range holding the ball was always asking too much and Bushin reacted quickly to poke the rebound past the stranded Evesham goalkeeper and into the net.

Five minutes later Cross took a leaf out of Taunton ’keeper Connor Sidley-Adams’s book by completely missing the ball as it was rolled back to him from his own player, and Pearse was onto it like a whippet to muscle his way in front of Sysum and tap the ball into an empty net.

That should have been more than enough for Tiverton to seal the points, and there were a couple of chances to create an even bigger cushion. Pearse and Steele combined to set up Concanen but his low shot fizzed a foot or two wide of Cross’s upright on the hour mark, and Lewis Tasker curled a free kick around the wall but harmlessly into Cross’s arms. Never mind though, with less that twenty minutes remaining and Evesham not looking as if they could muster a great deal these misses shouldn’t prove crucial…

The defining moment of the game came in the seventy-third minute when Tivvy made a double substitution and Evesham made their final change. Off went Steele and Bushin to be replaced by Josh Searle and Owen Howe, while for the Robins Dwayne Spence replaced Palmer. From Tivvy’s perspective the changes made sense – they could sit deeper and pack the midfield, while the added pace in attack would mean they should be able to break effectively. Besides, Bushin, despite his goal, had been something of a bit-part player in the match, some way short of his best. Steele’s withdrawal, however, had more of an impact, and while Searle did nothing wrong during his time on the pitch the Yellows missed Steele’s bite and the unsung donkey-word he had consistently delivered in an unfussy manner.

Spence’s introduction, for the exact same reasons as Howe’s, was rewarded when he slipped in behind the Tivvy defence just six minutes after entering the fray, and although Wright slid to block his first shot the ball bobbled up and off the substitute’s leg, over the Town ’keeper and into the net. It gave United a lifeline with eleven minutes of normal time remaining and set up an intriguing and nervy finale.

Searle had the chance to restore Tivvy’s two-goal advantage a couple of minutes later but, having received the ball from Faux could only shoot wide of the mark, and even then Evesham were held relatively comfortably beyond shooting range until the game approached its death. A corner was conceded by Concanen as the fifth minute of added time arrived, Simon Fitter’s cross was deep but United were able to retain possession, and Hyde was unmarked on the edge of the area to carefully place a shot through a packed area and into the bottom corner.

Tivvy kicked off again, pumped the ball long and Evesham promptly hoofed it back upfield as the referee blew for full time. Substitutions and a switch towards negativity lost Town two points, but hey, it’s easy to say that with the unblurred benefit of hindsight. On another day (most other days) the logical changes would have seen the Yellows see out time and win the game. Managers are held to account for their decisions, sometimes unfairly. Mark Saunders has made more good calls than bad and that is worth remembering. The same can surely be said of Tom Cross, so he was quite entitled to celebrate despite the value of his mistake theoretically being doubled.


Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Lewis Tasker, Kevin Hill, Paul Kendall, Russell Jee, Andy Taylor, David Steele (Josh Searle 73), Dave Pearse (Adam Faux 90+1), Joe Bushin (Owen Howe 73), Alex Faux
Goals: Bushin 47, Pearse 52
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Evesham United: Tom Cross, Martin Hutchcox (Leon Kandekore 56), Jamie Hyde, Matt Sysum, Jamal Clarke (Nathan Turner 46), Leigh Downing, Simon Fitter, James Blake, Marcus Palmer (Dwayne Spence 73), Carl Brown, Sam Adkins
Goals: Spence 79, Hyde 90+5
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Attendance: 187


This report ©2012 Alan Reidy