Match report

Tiverton Town 3 - 4 Paulton Rovers

   Tuesday 19/03/2013   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

The dawn of a new era, albeit a temporary one, commenced as life at Ladysmead was given a rebirth under the temporary charge of Kevin Hill. Whatever happened it couldn’t possibly be any worse than what had gone before and Tiverton, searching for the first victory of the year, welcomed back Tom Gardner to the team, but Josh Searle was unwell and unavailable.

It meant that the team pretty much picked itself, although the imminent departure of Joe Bushin helped define the forward line, and both Michael Nardiello (who had assumed guardianship of the captain’s armband for the evening) and Jules Emati-Emati rewarded their respective inclusions in the starting line-up with a goal to sandwich a strike from Hill.

All of that came after a strong start from Paulton Rovers who made the most of Tivvy’s low self-belief to cruise almost effortlessly into a two-goal lead. The first from Nick McCootie was a scrappy affair and the visitors’ striker was able to capitalise when his own high ball forward was headed upwards rather than outwards by Gardner, under pressure from James Billing, and with Chris Wright drawn off his line McCootie had the relatively easy task of finishing things off from the edge of the area.

Paulton doubled their lead just before a third of the game had been completed and once again the togetherness of the Tiverton defence might well be brought under scrutiny. With that said, perhaps the positioning and decision-making of the lineman on the clubhouse side was more dubious as he kept his flag down and allowed Billing to race through onto Ben Lacey’s long ball, jink around Wright and roll the ball into the net.

It was all a bit easy for Paulton at this stage – Wright had already had to make a double-save from McCootie early in the game and Lacey might well feel he should have done better than to shoot low and without conviction after he had picked up on Andy Taylor’s weak clearance. However, Tiverton were giving as good as the got, at least in the final third of the pitch, and before Paulton had forged ahead Alex Faux was unlucky as his near-post effort went over after good work on the left by Nardiello. And when Josh Concanen dinked the ball over the head of Mike Reaney Nardiello could only push the ball wide.

Nothing had changed, it seemed, but Tiverton were not ready to wave the white flag just yet. Nardiello had a shot blocked having been teed up by Taylor, and the Yellows pulled a goal back as Scott Brice failed to clear a cross from Nardiello, subsequently baulked his own goalkeeper, and that allowed Emati-Emati to poke the ball home from three yards.

The goal gave Tivvy an extra spring in their step and, reinvigorated, on the pushed until Lewis Tasker was fouled a few yards outside the area. Taylor struck the free kick low, Kyle Phillips saves, and Hill reacted quicker than anyone else to find the net from close range and bring the game back level.

It appeared as if the change of ends would arrive with the sides locked together but the referee found an extra three minutes to play at the end of the second half, and with their tails up the Yellows continued to build on the momentum they had built. Tasker and Faux combined down the left to set up Russell Jee. He took one touch to bring the ball under control and a second to curl it towards the penalty spot. Taylor had pelted forward and met the delivery with an excellent downwards header which again Phillips was able to save low near his post. However, he couldn’t hold on and the ball squirmed back across goal when Nardiello was on hand to clip it into the net.

Tiverton had scored three times in ten minutes from a combined distance of about six yards, and poor Phillips must have considered himself the unluckiest man alive having done just about everything in his power. It indicated a change of fortunes for Tivvy, a turn in luck that had proven so absent over recent games, and there was now a real belief that the winless streak would come to an end, regardless of the fact that Paulton were a decent enough side and certainly had it in them to regroup and come back in the second half.

For the first twenty minutes after the restart it was one-way traffic as Rovers probed away in search of an equaliser, and Hill picked up a yellow card when he chopped down McCootie as Paulton looked to break through the middle having stifled a rare Tivvy attack.

Six minutes later Billing had an effort deflected away for a corner, Brandon Barnes delivered and then had a second chance as the ball was forced back out to the right. After a second or two with the ball pinballing around in the area it eventually fell for McCootie to blast the ball past Wright and into the net, tying the game and giving Paulton a platform for the final stages of the game that they deserved.

Their fourth goal came once again shortly after a yellow card had been shown, this time to Faux for a foul on Lacey. The crucial move itself was worked down the left wing with Lacey helping play on to Reaney, and Reaney crossing for Billing. There was still a lot to do at that point and Billing did it superbly as he took the cross on his chest, turned around his marker and shot into the corner, all in one beautifully clean movement. So another test of character awaited for the Yellows…

They showed enough of that but not quite enough decisiveness in front of goal. The movement was good and generally towards the goal Tivvy were attacking for the final twenty minutes or so, and Kieran Rapo entered the fray and looked far more assured than he had on his début a week beforehand. Rapo and Nardiello linked up nicely on occasions but neither he nor Nardiello quite had the final touch, as didn’t David Steele who sent a shot straight at Phillips.

Tiverton certainly weren’t a one-man team but Nardiello was some distance better than most other players on the pitch, McCootie and Dan Cleverley excepted, and having made something out of nothing to win a corner five minutes from the end Nards then met Taylor’s deliver but headed over the top.

That was to be Tiverton’s last effort on goal and defeat was more or less confirmed when Faux picked up his second yellow card of the game when he slid through Cleverley as the ball was about to go out of play on the sideline. Substitute Tom Tricker was also cautioned late on but that had little effect on the outcome. It’s 19 and counting now.


Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Lewis Tasker, Kevin Hill, David Steele, Tom Gardner, Andy Taylor, Russell Jee (Tom Tricker 74), Michael Nardiello, Jules Emati-Emati (Kieran Rapo 74), Alex Faux
Goals: Emati-Emati 37, Hill 45, Nardiello 45+2
Booked: Hill 48, Faux 60, 84, Tricker 89
Sent off: Faux 84

Paulton Rovers: Kyle Phillips, Stuart Pearson, Mike Reaney, Marcus Mapstone, Scott Brice, Ben Osman (Craig Loxton 62), Brandon Barnes (Josh Jeffries 90+1), Ben Lacey, James Billing (Tyler Sibbick 70), Dan Cleverley, Nick McCootie
Goals: McCootie 16, 54, Billing 28, 62
Booked: Osman 38
Sent off: None

Attendance: 153


This report ©2013 Alan Reidy