Match report

Tiverton Town 1 - 4 Exeter City

   Tuesday 26/02/2013   Devon St Luke's Cup
Alan Reidy

Tiverton and Exeter are regular Devon Cup foes and City continue to hold the upper hand following their comprehensive victory at Ladysmead in this season’s quarter-final encounter. Tuesday’s match was the fifth time in the past seven years that the teams have been paired together, with Exeter now boasting a four victories to three advantage, thanks to two first half goals from Tom Nicholls and then strikes after the break by Ollie Watkins and Jamie Reid. Alex Faux had managed to pull one back for Tiverton before City’s fourth but there was seldom any doubt about the outcome and Exeter’s winning margin could well have been much greater.

Latecomers would have missed the opening goal of the game as Nicholls benefitted from a mistake in the Tivvy defensive ranks to pick up on Jacob Cane’s pass and smash the ball past Chris Wright with only 28 seconds on the clock, and although that goal set the tone for the match as a whole it didn’t initially deter Town. The Yellows’ best spell of the game followed and for the next fifteen minutes or thereabouts it was the Yellows on the front foot. Joe Bushin headed a right wing corner over the crossbar, Tom Gardner nodded straight at City goalkeeper Christy Pym from a flag kick on the other side, and there wasn’t much between the two teams, the early goal notwithstanding.

Exeter were able to temper the Tivvy appetite eventually and Nicholls fired up and over the crossbar as the visitors launched a fast counter attack  through James Byrne, the Town players incredulous as a weighty shove on Josh Searle had gone unpunished moments earlier. Aside from Exeter’s superior finishing and generally good build-up play that was the story of the match – how Tivvy managed to concede so many fouls yet receive very little in terms of refereeing decisions. If the game was officiated to the letter of the law then that letter was Greek to most onlookers, and even the small yet vociferous away fans were as confused as to why the referee seemed to want to be the centre of attention.

Nobody is blaming Mr. Huxtable for ruining the game or affecting the result because that isn’t the case, but as ever his decisions and apparent southern leaning were evident throughout. It perhaps softened the blow for the Tivvy faithful that the game wasn’t exactly in the balance from the point when Nicholls bagged his second with a deft lob over Wright to round off another quick break this time instigated by Matt Grimes. That goal was a particular shame for Jimmy Hinds who had lost possession in midfield for Tiverton, but the youngster had a decent enough debut on the whole and had a couple of shots on goal in the second half, one wide and then a very difficult volley that went high into the night sky.

The first half ended with three efforts on goal from the home side – a header straight at Pym by Faux, a shot into the side netting by Bushin, and then a looping effort again from Bushin that was easy for the Exeter goalkeeper to save and hold. And early in the second half Michael Nardiello put one past the post from the edge of the area, but Exeter continued to look the more accomplished side in all areas, and after Wright had denied Nicholls his hat-trick City extended their advantage when Watkins converted Connor Riley-Lowe’s near post cross.

The calamitous decision-making from the referee continued and riled the Tivvy players to the point where Bushin was booked for dissent as he vocalised his and everybody else’s frustration when Nardiello had been penalised for a foul despite not getting anywhere near either the ball or the player as Sam Brown intercepted a pass deep in his own half. Largely though the Yellows managed to keep their heads amid the curious whistle-blowing and constant signalling towards the Devco End, and a corner from Tasker eventually fell for Faux to sweep into the net from close range, the only surprise being that a free kick wasn’t awarded for dangerous play as Faux’s foot was rather close to Riley-Lowe’s head.

That was just about as good as it got for Tiverton and thereafter Exeter dominated, could have scored a hatful but managed only one further goal. It was scored by Reid as he side-footed in a low cross from the left, and Wright made a couple of very good saves late in a game that had long since slipped away from Tiverton. Lewis Moore came off the bench to make his first senior appearance for the Yellows, an additional minute of time was added (which made up in part for the twenty-three seconds that had been omitted from the first half) and Exeter cruised through to a semi-final showdown with Plymouth Argyle.

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Lewis Tasker, Jimmy Hinds, Adam Faux, Tom Gardner, Josh Searle, Harry Nodwell (Lewis Moore 76), Michael Nardiello, Joe Bushin, Alex Faux (David Steele 66)
Goal: Faux 62
Booked: Bushin 56
Sent off: None

Exeter City: Christy Pym, Sam Brown (Hussein Heidari 81), Connor Riley-Lowe, James Byrne, Karmarl Duncan, Irvine Densu, Ollie Watkins (Jason Pope 78), Matt Grimes, Jamie Reid, Tom Nicholls (Alex Byrne 89), Jacob Cane
Goals: Nicholls 1, 30, Watkins 55, Reid 78
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Attendance: 115

This report ©2013 Alan Reidy