Match report

Winchester City 0 - 0 Tiverton Town

   Tuesday 16/04/2013   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

There was a very real feeling of experimentation as well as a degree of mashing together what was available for Tiverton’s first ever visit to Winchester City. Marathon-training Alex Faux was unavailable, as were Liam Ellis, Andy Taylor and Kyle Bassett while Kevin Hill was ill and only good for a place on the bench, so it gave Jamie Ward the opportunity to take a further look at some of the players on the fringes of the first team in a game that had little riding on it. In came Jesse Howe who played the full game, Lewis Tasker returned to the defence with Chris McGrath, and Chris Onoufriou was a surprise inclusion in the team. The substitute’s bench was made up with Hill, Max Bristow and Jimmy Hinds, confirming Ward’s insistence that the youngsters would get their opportunity to shine.





Winchester have endured a tough time of things both on and off the pitch but there appears a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel with a takeover of the club now complete and a newly gained feeling of positivity about the place. As hosts they were impeccable in their welcome and their hospitality, but sadly the playing surface prepared was of very poor quality and not in any way conducive to football of good quality. It meant a scrappy affair as both teams constantly battled against the bobbles, with players from both Winchester and Tiverton vocal in their disapproval of the surface. One could only persevere, however, and thus battle continued as much in the air as on the floor, ugly, fragmented and mistake-ridden throughout.





Tiverton created little and were lacking any real cutting edge as they toiled away and tried to play in spite of the pitch. Too often the Yellows dwelt too long in possession when opportunities arose to cross into the box: some crosses may have been scuffed behind had they been attempted, but frustratingly things seldom got that far; when Tasker did loop a cross behind he was harshly jeered by people that probably didn’t know any better despite their many years of watching from the comfort of the terraces. It was a genuine shame that such negativity has crept in, and Tasker deserved better for his performance on the night which was better than most, particularly in the first half. The shining of his light flickered and faded later in the game but he did little wrong on the whole, unless you include a few stray passes, the type of which there was not a player on the pitch innocent from such charges.





The best performance came from Onoufriou, particularly impressive considering he has had no time at all with the squad for twelve months and wouldn’t have even heard of some of his teammates before arriving in the county town. As tenacious as ever and technically as sound as could have been possible on an extremely soft pitch, both his positional play and decision-making was excellent, making him a worthy choice for Man of the Match despite his withdrawal with a tight hamstring midway through the second half. Onoufriou’s game in the centre is exactly the type Tivvy have been missing since Danny Clay’s departure; sadly it is unlikely that Chris will be a long-term member of the squad due to his own personal life circumstances.





In terms of action, there wasn’t a great deal to get excited about all told. Howe cut on from the left and shot wide early on, Tom Gardner headed high when he met a free kick from Jon Vance, both Josh Searle and Onoufriou missed the target by some margin, and did Tasker, Jules Emati-Emati and finally Vance again. The only Tivvy shot on target wasn’t difficult at all for Winchester goalkeeper George Passingham, a shot that he didn’t need to move for in order to save from Howe in the last minute of the first half. Down at the far end it was equally uninspiring as City showed clearly their own shortcomings. A lack of pace was a big factor – Gardner and McGrath were never really stretched – and on the one occasions that it seemed as if they might open up the Tiverton defence they were thwarted not by a yellow-shirted player but by the horrible state of the surface which refused to allow Tom Hutchings to advance anywhere near the edge of the area. Adam Tomasso belted in a free kick which was headed behind by McGrath and Wright was brought into action to save from Jordan Sako, but otherwise there was little for the home support to get out of the chairs for, nor anything to concern the Tiverton defence.





The loner into the game Winchester kept Tivvy out the more they seemed to fancy their own chances of getting a goal, so after a nondescript twenty-five minutes in the second half which saw another couple of speculative efforts harmlessly sail off target (Onoufriou, Vance and Emati-Emati) the home side gradually began to press forward. This in turn led to a bit more space for the Tiverton attackers to play in, and City’s lack of quality meant that Town’s counter attacking offered more of a threat to the scorekeepers that their own territorial advantage. A couple of corners were cleared away, the second of which saw Gardner unfortunately shoot straight at his own player from the edge of the area, and with ten minutes to play a powerful free kick from Tasker was fumbled by Passingham and led to a comical scramble at the foot of his goalpost which resulted in a free kick to the defending team – the easy option of course for the referee is such calamitous circumstances, and the truth is that nobody really knew what or who had been penalised. In the final minute there came a perfect opportunity for Tivvy to save their own blushes against a team that had lost their last fourteen league matches: Michael Nardiello was tripped by Tomasso in the box, and although the referee tried to allow advantage as the ball seemed to be sitting nicely for Howe, he quickly blew for a penalty when the chance failed to materialise. But for Tiverton and Nardiello it was to be a night of continuing frustration; like David Beckham in Turkey, the standing leg gave way a fraction before contact and the penalty (unlike Beckham’s which sailed miles over) bobbled apologetically along the floor and onto the post. So slow was the action that Passingham had committed himself one way but been able to regain his footing and nip across his goalline to pick up the ball not long after it had struck the frame of the goal. Winchester celebrated the end of their losing run as if they had won the Cup, and frankly who can blame them. They have had a horrible time lately and although lacking quality they remained composed on the whole and gave a very worthy account of themselves. Tiverton left the field with their faces long and their heads bowed in frustrated disappointment.





Winchester City: George Passingham, Rickii Sibley, Danny King, Adam Tomasso, Matt O’Dell, Andy Wood (Adam Conway 87), Pat Nolan, James Taylor, Tom Hutchings, Adam Bennett, Jordan Sako
Booked: Sibley 84, O’Dell 90+2
Sent off: None





Tiverton Town: Chris Wright, Josh Concanen, Lewis Tasker, Chris Onoufriou (Kevin Hill 66), Chris McGrath, Tom Gardner, Josh Searle (Max Bristow 84), Jon Vance (Jimmy Hinds 75), Michael Nardiello, Jesse Howe, Jules Emati-Emati
Booked: None
Sent off: None





Attendance: 105




This report ©2013 Alan Reidy