Match report

Tiverton Town 1 - 1 Bishop's Cleeve

   Saturday 05/01/2013   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

For only the third time in their 99-year history Tiverton Town drew a fourth consecutive match. In neither of the previous two occasions has this run been followed by a victory, but if the Yellows are to maintain their place in the playoff positions then it is of vital importance that they beat Yate next time out. The latest team to share the honours against Tivvy was Bishop’s Cleeve (apostrophe seemingly optional) as they visited Ladysmead and equalised Jules Emati-Emati’s opener almost immediately in what was generally a game of little intrigue.

Tiverton were almost at full strength as Andy Taylor returned to the squad along with Michael Nardiello, but Paul Kendall remained on the sidelines as he saw out the second of his two-match suspension, so Kevin Hill continued in central defence. Lewis Tasker made way to accommodate Taylor, while Owen Howe got the nod alongside Joe Bushin in attack. There was nothing too surprising in the selection – Dave Pearse had flattered to deceive on his last few starts, so with Howe back to full fitness this change was generally considered a logical one. Tasker hadn’t done too much wrong of late, but Alex Faux has played consistently well both in defence and midfield, meaning Tivvy lost little if anything by selecting the latter at left back. In fact it is significant that Tivvy haven’t lost a game this season when Alex has started the game in defence, and not only did that record continue, but Faux’s energy and determination up and down the wing gave a more direct attacking threat: it wasn’t unusual to see Josh Searle drop deeper than Faux on several occasions throughout the afternoon.

Tiverton started well enough, certainly with more intent than Bishop’s Cleeve, and while chances were not exactly arriving at regular intervals the Yellows looked the better side. Howe spread the ball wide to Taylor two minutes in and Taylor’s cross was met by Searle and headed straight at James Nortei in the Cleeve goal; a decent move which may have set the tempo had Tivvy been completely switched on. Unfortunately for the home fans there was still an air of New Year’s hangover about the performance, with little consistency about the tempo or the quality. Nevertheless Howe had a chance of his own soon afterwards which he took early and shot wide, and although Nortei got the slightest of touches on the ball the effort was always drifting beyond the post. And so slight was the goalkeeper’s deflection that it was missed by the referee and a corner wasn’t awarded.

Bishop’s Cleeve did win a corner soon afterwards, one which was played short, and it was interesting that no yellow shirts even made the slightest attempt to snuff out this option. In the end it didn’t make any difference, but it had allowed the visitors to cross from a better position, and perhaps signified the fact that the Tivvy team contained either heavy legs or heavy heads. Regardless of the lack of fine-tuning defensively, there was no shortage of desire and determination at the other end of the pitch, and although the end product was missing the signs remained promising. Howe nicked the ball as Alex Hoyle tried to dribble out of defence but his cross whizzed across the goalmouth with both Bushin and David Steele a yard or two too far back, Taylor’s cross was recycled by Faux only for Sam Avery to make a key block (one for which shouts for handball were understandably ignored by the referee), and then Taylor chipped over as Bushin released Howe to cut the ball back, with Taylor trying the spectacular despite Bushin having made up ground to find space to his right.

There followed Bishop’s Cleeve’s best spell of the first half and Town were thankful to Josh Concanen for intercepting and heading away a very dangerous cross by Saul Williams which had seemed destined to land perfectly for Matt Liddiard, while Chris Wright showed very safe hands as he plucked out a hanging cross from the right from Mike Davis. Tiverton soaked up the pressure without ever allowing a shot on goal from the visitors – a decent achievement considering how calm in possession the Villagers appeared – and after a booking apiece, John Crowford for a foul on Searle and then Russell Jee for the Yellows the first half ended with Tivvy back in the ascendency and a move involving Bushin and Steele eventually came to nothing as Howe was muscled off the ball.

Jee, on a booking, and not enjoying his finest game ever was replaced at the interval by Emati-Emati as Tiverton switched to a 4-3-3 formation, and the extra man up front almost cost them as Hoyle’s direct pass out of defence allowed Jake Lee to sprint into space, and it was Faux who eventually executed the telling challenge on the edge of the area as Lee was about to pull the trigger. It was the most exciting moment of the match to that point but six minutes later the deadlock was finally broken as a long ball out of defence was missed by the otherwise faultless Matt Rose, and Emati-Emati got in behind to smash a shot over Nortei and into the top corner. Route one perhaps, but they all count and the finish was excellent; the substitution had worked!

For two minutes the substitution worked, and then Bishop’s Cleeve were back on level terms. Davis chipped in a free kick from out on the right which was headed away but without sufficient distance, Lee Davis hammered the ball back into the area and it smacked Emati-Emati on the chest before falling nicely for Williams to shoot and find the bottom corner. At this stage Bishop’s Cleeve may have been considered lucky to be level on balance, but for much of the remainder of the game they were the better team and deserved their point.

What they didn’t do was truly threaten to score again, and Tiverton had the only further genuine chance of a game that was more about attrition than skill. That came when Steele was upeneded by Michael Jackson on the corner of the area, and Taylor’s free kick was headed on target by Emati-Emati as Nortei launched himself spectacularly off to his left to pluck the ball from the air. Nortei was then in the wars when he was unceremoniously bundled into his own post by substitute Nardiello, aiming to get something onto a Kevin Hill header, and Tom Gardner made a key interception to deny Liddiard a shooting opportunity which rounded off a game where it was very difficult to justify handing three points to either team. Tiverton had the better chances, Cleeve the better possession.

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Alex Faux, Kevin Hill, Josh Searle (Harry Nodwell 73), Tom Gardner, Andy Taylor, David Steele, Owen Howe (Michael Nardiello 79), Joe Bushin, Russell Jee (Jules Emati-Emati 46)
Goals: Emati-Emati 53
Booked: Jee 35
Sent off: None

Bishop’s Cleeve: James Nortei, John Crowford, Alex Hoyle, Lee Davis, Sam Avery, Matt Rose, Saul Williams (Alex Sykes 83), Michael Jackson, Jake Lee, Matt Liddiard, Mike Davis (Stuart Midwinter 73)
Goals: Williams 55
Booked: Crowford 31
Sent off: None

Attendance: 206

This report ©2013 Alan Reidy