Match report

Tiverton Town 1 - 3 Hungerford Town

   Saturday 13/04/2013   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

Although Tiverton’s season continues to taper off into nothingness there was no disgrace in losing to Hungerford, a team looking to consolidate their position in the playoffs, and also a team who adapted with remarkable ease to the conditions thrown their way by the rather unfavourable weather along with the number of games Ladysmead has had to host recently. The Crusaders won comfortably in the end after they had come from behind in the first half, and although Tivvy battled hard they were always second best; Hungerford were hugely impressive considering the difficult playing surface.

For ten minutes it was very different. Tiverton took the game to their visitors and had much the better in the early part of the game, passing and moving with ease, looking consistently dangerous, and eventually forging ahead. Josh Concanen, Andy Taylor, Josh Searle and Michael Nardiello were all at the fore before Hungerford were allowed to get into their stride, and so crisp was Tivvy’s passing that they carved out triangles, squares and even a pentagram as they made the away defence twist, turn and slip about. One such move in the fifth minute was brought to an abrupt halt when Nardiello got behind the defence, was about to shoot and was wiped out by Mark Hughes in the area. The penalty was no problem for Nards, and Tivvy were in the lead… too early perhaps?

Too early indeed, because that is about as good as it ever really got, and other than a shot from Jon Vance which went wide Tiverton never managed to disturb the Hungerford defence to any level thereafter. Indeed, it was the visitors who quickly established themselves as the stronger team and they saw efforts from James Clark and Dean Stow miss the target narrowly, and were then kept at bay as Chris Wright saved a skidding shot from Scott Rees, with Mark Draycott hammering the rebound over, not that it would have counted anyway as he was flagged for offside. Not unnerved by Tiverton’s early goal, Hungerford played smartly throughout and equalised when Stow’s corner was somehow scrambled away via a goal-line clearance as far as Hughes and Hughes slammed it back with more purpose than Wright could deal with, through a crowd of players and into the net.  And three minutes later the scores were level no more; Jo Packer-Byrne sought a crossfield pass to Concanen, Draycott fancied a bit of that and intercepted, Concanen chased back and Draycott, always a yard ahead and the kind of striker that doesn’t need a second invitation, simply hammered the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

The goal had been coming, it must be said, and all across the pitch Hungerford passed with an assurance that made a mockery of the almost unplayable surface. Neutrals, Hungerford supporters and any other level-headed football lovers would have appreciated just what they were doing and how well they were doing it; for the Tivvy fans it was hard to take but one still couldn’t begrudge them the lead. Matt Day and Jon Boardman in defence used the ball intelligently, the overlapping and underlapping pair of Gary Horgan and Bradley Gray were having a whale of a time down the left wing (which was also the one area of the pitch that was holding relatively firm), and it was now Tiverton’s players who were chasing shadows. Rees missed an open goal somehow when Stow raced down the right and crossed with the Tiverton defenders all stood around waiting for an offside flag against the completely inactive Draycott, and Chris McGrath cleared off the line on the stroke of half time to leave Draycott stuck on one goal for the afternoon.

The second half was more of a contest than the final thirty minutes of the first, but generally Hungerford remained the more threatening team, although it took both Yellows and Whites a good ten minutes to get going after the interval. Inevitably it was the visitors who made the first moves but a couple of corners, earned off Alex Faux and then Wright, amounted to nothing when Boardman headed well over the crossbar. Tivvy responded and so nearly equalised as a set piece taken by Taylor was headed partly clear, Tom Tricker – on the pitch for just a matter of seconds – redelivered into the area and Faux spectacularly put a bicycle kick narrowly over with Paul Strudley left spectating from his goal line.

Draycott was again left stuck with just the one goal to his name when his low shot found the net but the linesman’s flag was waving for a tug on McGrath, and at the other end Tricker could only find the side-netting from an acute angle having been picked out at the far post by Concanen (the truth being that Tricker probably intended to pull the ball back rather than go for goal). That miss signalled another wave from the Crusaders: they won a corner that amounted to nothing when Faux cut out Draycott’s shot following an error from Taylor, and Day sent a screaming free kick just wide, a free kick conceded by Tricker and punished by a yellow card, Tivvy’s second as Faux had been booked moments earlier for a late sliding challenge on Stow.

It’s a cliché to say at 2-1 that the next goal is important, but that theory becomes ever more pertinent as time ticks by, so with Tiverton desperate but labouring the crucial fourth goal predictably went in favour of Hungerford. There was little pretty in the build-up but the ball was squeezed through from midfield into the path of Clark, and he was easily able to beat Wright in the same way Draycott had fifteen minutes earlier, the only difference being that this time there was no tug on McGrath and therefore no need for the linesman to flag furiously and confuse any passing light aeroplanes. The goal killed the game, Tiverton made one further substitution, Hungerford made two, and a little bit of late pressure from the Yellows was straightforwardly snuffed out by the visitors which meant Hungerford are now guaranteed a playoff place. On this performance they deserve it and will be a tough cookie to crack.

Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Alex Faux, Andy Taylor, Chris McGrath, Tom Gardner, Josh Searle (Max Bristow 82), Jon Vance, Michael Nardiello, Kyle Bassett (Jules Emati-Emati 61), Joe Packer-Byrne (Tom Tricker 61)
Goal: Nardiello 6p
Booked: Faux 69, Tricker 73
Sent off: None

Hungerford Town: Pal Strudley, Mark Hughes, Gary Horgan, Jon Boardman, Matt Day, Scott Rees, Dean Stow, Ian Herring (Luke Brewer 86), James Clark (Harry Goodger 85), Mark Draycott, Bradley Gray
Goals: Hughes 28, Draycott 31, Clark 79
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Attendance: 229

This report ©2013 Alan Reidy