Match report

Tiverton Town 0 - 0 Cinderford Town

   Saturday 09/02/2013   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

Staying power. Belief. Consistency. Three qualities required to stay at the top of the table. Without doubt Tiverton are lacking a bit of each and the proof of that pudding is clear when considering that the Yellows, since hitting the summit back in November, have picked up five points – all from draws – out of a possible twenty-four. A little hidden truth is that even a maximum haul across those eight matches wouldn’t have been enough to stay above Hungerford, but that is neither here nor there now, and the reality is that the Crusaders, as well as Poole and probably Merthyr and Swindon too, are a little too far ahead to be seen as realistic carrots of encouragement, not that Tiverton are donkeys. The race is on for fifth place, which Tiverton currently hold, and there are plenty of teams just as keen to grab it. The next eleven weeks could be fun.

The match against Cinderford was a goalless affair and on the face of it that doesn’t seem like a very good result for a team with hopes of finishing the season in the playoffs. But things need to be taken in some kind of context: Cinderford are a better side than their current eighteenth position suggests (games in hand could see them rise into the top half of the table); given the conditions and the previous performance Tiverton played quite well; had the result arrived on the back of a good run then the analysis would be more along the lines of “we can’t win them all” as opposed to “we can’t win any of them”.  Both Tivvy and Cinderford could have won this one and a draw was just about a fair result. Chris Wright was the busier goalkeeper while Cinderford had the busier defence; it was all about converting chances, or in this case not converting chances.

The Yellows started with the same eleven that began at Didcot a week earlier and after a bright start with garnered few chances saw Cinderford come into the game. Andy Taylor’s set-piece deliveries were much improved but after his free kick had been headed behind by Ashley Malcolm the corner that followed was too close to Alex Harris. Jules Emati-Emati then powered though between two defenders, clipped the ball around Harris and was denied a chance to roll the ball into the net as the excellent Andy Lewis recovered to nick the ball away. A the other end Cinderford’s focus was understandably on getting the ball up to he giant Lewis Sommers, with the striker missing the target at the far post as the Foresters moved the ball out to the right at Matt Barnes crossed dangerously.

Sam O’Sullivan proved to be a great foil for Sommers and his cross from the left was miskicked by Tom Gardner only for Sommers to see his shot crucially blocked by Josh Concanen, and then Dale Evans tried his luck from well outside the box with Wright saving, fumbling and then scrambling to fall on the loose ball. Considering the extremely heavy playing conditions the game was surprisingly open – Cinderford were direct, Tiverton more measured, and both philosophies had their merits. Josh Searle shot wide after good build-up play involving Concanen and then Emati-Emati, while a foul on Joe Bushin by Warren Archer gave Taylor the chance to clip a free kick into the area which Paul Kendall met but headed straight at Harris.

Barnes then lost his footing as he tried to pull the trigger when Tiverton had only partially cleared a long free kick into the box, and the visitors were almost gifted a goal when Wright struggled to tidy up a bobbling backpass, scuffed a clearance and then watched on in relief as Sommers’ early shot narrowly missed the target. And that chance underlined how difficult the pitch was, so it was praiseworthy that Tiverton managed to retain their discipline and continued to try and pass through a loaded Cinderford defence. Taylor and particularly Kevin Hill looked assured in central midfield, making a mockery of the uneven pitch, and Hill’s composure allowed the Yellows to continually move the ball into wide areas and keep the game stretched. Approaching half time the best move of the match saw the veteran midfielder press forward and having initiated the attack Hill then played a brilliant reverse pass which Concanen met and then blasted frustratingly over the crossbar.

The second half continued in much the same manner with Tiverton looking the better side with the ball on the deck, Cinderford more dangerous when breaking at pace. It was almost a replica of the game at Didcot with the one difference that Cinderford lacked the devastating cutting edge displayed by Diddy. They were not without their chances although few were clear-cut: Evans had a snapshot saved and held by Wright, Sommers was tackled with a timely intervention by Gardner, and in his last notable contribution to the game Barnes’s shot from a tight angle was hacked away by Kendall. And by that stage the visitors could well have been ahead as they almost benefitted from two fouls against them that were not given. The first saw Kendall pulling back Sommers, then the ball broke free and Gardner came within inches of chopping down O’Sullivan, but the Cinderford forward rode the challenge and got his shot away which again Wright saved well. It was a couple of minutes until the ball went dead and Kendall was called back and shown the yellow card for his over-enthusiastic attempts to bring the attack to a halt; Garner was unpunished.

There remained no lack of good play, drive and determination from Tivvy throughout the match and Cinderford’s clean sheet can be put down to a very impressive and focussed team effort. As a unit they restricted the Yellows to shots from around the edge of the area, were broken open only once, and came out unscathed. Lewis Tasker was the first to shoot in the second half but side-footed over the top following more good creative play from Emati-Emati and Searle, and two minutes later determined running from Alex Faux allowed the winger to cross with Emati-Emati sliding in at the far post a fraction of a second after the ball had whizzed past him. A Taylor corner, flicked on by Hill refused to sit for Kendall at the far stick, and then Tasker had a shot blocked and Harris tipped Taylor’s powerful follow-up shot around the post.

For the last ten or fifteen minutes Tiverton were well on top but couldn’t make it count and another corner created panic amongst the Cinderford defence as claims for handball against Archer were ignored. The Yellows kept the ball alive and Hill’s placed shot had Harris wrong-footed but Kieran Thomas stuck out a leg and made a telling block as the ball headed towards the bottom corner and what would have been a winning goal. On Tivvy pressed but increasingly Cinderford regained their composure, allowing only one further effort on goal from Tasker which went straight into the arms of Harris.

The level of the performance from Tiverton was good with Emati-Emati dropping deep to link up with Searle very effectively before both were taken off midway through the second half. Hill and Taylor both looked unflappable as they defied any bobble that could be thrown at them, but the final touch was lacking and that will be the main concern for Mark Saunders and Hedley Steele as the Yellows embark on a three-match sequence of away games. Perhaps most encouragingly was the lack of significant errors when defending, an unwanted facet of the previous week’s game, so progress has been made and the playoff target remains achievable. Tivvy just need to turn chances into goals and then all will be good in the world.


Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Lewis Tasker, Kevin Hill, Paul Kendall, Tom Gardner, Andy Taylor, Alex Faux, Josh Searle (David Steele 67), Joe Bushin, Jules Emati-Emati (Owen Howe 67)
Booked: Kendall 56, Faux 90+2
Sent off: None

Cinderford Town: Alex Harris, Kieran Thomas, Danny Haines, Warren Archer, Andy Lewis, Josh Emery, Matt Barnes (Jack Camm 86), Dale Evans, Sam O’Sullivan (Lee Smith 70), Lewis Sommers, Ashley Malcolm
Booked: Archer 31, Haines 56
Sent off: None

Attendance: 180


This report ©2013 Alan Reidy