Match report

Tiverton Town 1 - 2 North Leigh

   Tuesday 12/03/2013   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

Despondent Tiverton Town increased their winless run to eighteen games in all competitions, and if there are any positives to be taken out of the defeat at home to North Leigh then that is that at least not many people were there to see it. A gathering of 65, the lowest at Ladysmead since the struggling days of the early Eighties witnessed a poor performance interspersed only briefly with slight glimmers of acceptability. At the end of it all Mark Saunders and Hedley Steele packed their bags and left.

An enforced change saw Craig Fenner make his Tiverton debut in place of the injured Adam Faux; Josh Searle dropped to the bench as Lewis Tasker was restored to the team, and reserve team players Kieran Rapo and Tom Tricker filled the bench as the game kicked off and the Yellows generally had the better of the early play. A shot from Michael Nardiello was blocked but didn’t fall kindly for David Steele so North Leigh were able to clear, and then Lewis Tasker gave visitors’ defender Wayne Turk the run-around by the touchline but his through-ball was chipped wide by Nardiello.

And that was about as good as it got for a while as North Leigh began to take control of the game with Jacob Walcott almost getting lucky with a cross from the right which was fumbled and eventually smothered by Chris Wright. But five minutes later the away side were ahead with their first proper attack: Fenner, trying to play the ball out of defence sold Josh Concanen short, Kieran Sanders quickly intercepted, picked out Walcott, and his shot was deflected off Kevin Hill and past the wrong-footed Wright.

Soon one became two with a goal simple in its execution. Brian Bowles lifted the ball forward to Ryan Brooks, and Hill was unable to make a sufficient challenge so Brooks, from the edge of the area lobbed the ball over Wright and into the net. Tivvy were reeling and simply couldn’t pass the ball to each other as North Leigh visibly grew in confidence, and only a smart save from Wright denied Declan Shepherd a third in a spell of utter dominance for the away side.

There was, however, still plenty of time to get back on track, and to their credit Tiverton worked hard so although the quality was lacking at least they showed heart. Concanen’s cross from the right, after he had avoided a tardy challenge from James Organ, was flicked on by Nardiello only for Alex Faux to lift the ball over from a very tight angle at the far post, and then there was a lifeline as David Steele picked out Nardiello who made no mistake when faced only with Warrell for the second time in the match, a delicate placed effort finding the bottom corner.

The second half was largely uninspiring from both sides, with North Leigh happy to hold onto what they had and Tiverton often too hurried in their desperation to salvage something from the game. A scramble in the area saw Nardiello have a shot blocked and then Joe Bushin accidentally step on he ball ten yards out, while Jules Emati-Emati blasted over from the edge of the area following a quick one-two with fellow substitute Searle. Emati-Emati had managed to give Tivvy a little extra high up the field as the Yellows switched their system around, but it was Bushin who went closest to equalising when he turned and shot onto the post from twenty yards out.

Other than that there was little danger for the away side: Bushin did head towards goal and over Warrell but Stuart Hole got back in plenty of time to belt the ball away , while Organ blocked two shots in quick succession from Bushin and Emati-Emati. In the end North Leigh could have won by more than the single goal had Brooks made the most of a good opening created by Walcott, and had Sanders not sliced his shot into the side netting as Tivvy’s defence was stretched with the ball moving from right to left quicker than they could move their feet.

If Tiverton are to avoid a nineteenth winless game on the trot they will have to do so with a new management team. One can’t blame Saunders for relinquishing his position if that is indeed the truth of the matter; in such a results-based industry one also couldn’t blame the Tiverton Town board if the reality is that they made the decision to relieve Saunders of his duties. Being one of the good guys simply isn’t enough in this game.

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Lewis Tasker, Kevin Hill, Craig Fenner, David Steele (Josh Searle 60), Andy Taylor, Russell Jee (Jules Emati-Emati 60), Michael Nardiello (Kieran Rapo 71), Joe Bushin, Alex Faux
Goal: Nardiello 33
Booked: Fenner 57, Taylor 74
Sent off: None

North Leigh: Sam Warrell, Wayne Turk, James Organ, Toby Clarke, Zak Westlake, Stuart Hole, Jacob Walcott, Brian Bowles, Ryan Brooks, Declan Shepherd (Jon Else 67), Kieran Sanders (John Mills 80)
Goals: Walcott 19, Brooks 23
Booked: Turk 82
Sent off: None

Attendance: 65

This report ©2013 Alan Reidy