Match report

Guildford City 1 - 4 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 07/09/2013   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

Contrasting situations and contrasting fortunes: pound-rich Tiverton eased to three points against a Guildford side that barely have two pennies to rub together, so it was not at all surprising that the boys from Devon made light work of their opponents. And let’s be honest; aside from the disappointing opening-day defeat at the hands of Cirencester and the follow-up humbling at Paulton Tivvy have done pretty well in the league, now boasting a perfect record over the past three matches. Guildford, meanwhile, have conceded thirteen goals and garnered no points from games over the same period. Their inexperience showed throughout but their honesty was also very apparent, so while they were outclassed they kept to their task admirably and will win a lot of friends in this league with their application to the cause.

Town’s line-up was more or less as expected as Sam Malsom remained unfit and Adam Kelly only healthy enough for a place on the bench, so the one significant decision saw Stephen Reed play wide on the left at the expense of Josh Searle, with the promising partnership of Shane Krac and John Heveran in the centre of midfield. The pair complement each other beautifully (although one might say that any player would be able to play off the irrepressible Krac), and Heveran’s controlled and simplistic approach to the game was a key factor in Tiverton being able to dominate in the middle third; his solidity afforded Krac, Reed and Josh Concanen the freedom required to exploit the weaknesses of a City side sadly fighting an ever-losing battle.

The main focus for Tivvy was to get the ball into wide positions in order to lift crosses into the area for the strong duo of Matt Wright and Jules Emati-Emati to feed off, and twice in the opening ten minutes this tactic worked perfectly, levering the Yellows (ahem, Amber and Blacks, err, no, Whites) into a lead that seldom looked under threat. The opener came not so directly from a ball out wide, for that pass from Tom Gardner was blocked by a wayward Guildford hand and Krac floated in the free kick for Matt Villis to glance a header past Will Dukes. Poor defending from a set piece, indeed, and an early indication that City’s defence weren’t really up to the task. A minute later, after strong hold-up play from Emati-Emati, it was Reed’s turn to cross from the left, and this time Concanen made up ground from the right and was in position just ahead of Wright to nod the ball into the net.

It was all a bit too easy, and embarrassing perhaps for the home supporters who would have quickly had Tuesday’s nightmare brought back, an eight-goal mauling at North Leigh. It was easy to see how such a fluid attacking unit as North Leigh were able to score at will, and Tivvy had now given themselves the opportunity to do just the same. In the next five minutes two more good chances came and went – Krac fired high over the crossbar, Emati-Emati had a looping shot tipped over the top, and these close calls added to an ever increasing tally of goalscoring chances which had already included, before Villis’s goal, near misses for Concanen and, inevitably, Jules.

Just what happened next was hard to explain given the complete mismatch that the first fifteen minutes plus all of the ninety in Guildford’s previous match had proven to be: the home side rallied and got themselves going. And then they scored! George Bowerman onto Tuan West down the left, a low cross and Paul Cox reacted to get between Gardner and Chris Long and clip the ball past Dan Law. We suddenly had a game on our hands and both teams knew it; Law’s save a few moments later to deny Ben Walshe on reflection might well be considered crucial,  and Ryan Bernard wasn’t a million miles away when he met a Kieran Burrell corner, his header just a couple of feet wide of the mark.

That little spell may have given Guildford and their fans encouragement but Tiverton remained calm and soon regained the initiative, so in the last fifteen minutes of the first half the game returned to the pattern of the earlier exchanges. Wright should have done better than to sky a shot when he was picked out unmarked by Concanen, made by a delicious crossfield pass from Reed, and then Heveran played in Reed to aim a pinpoint cross only for Emati-Emati to thrust himself diving forward at full-length and guide the ball just over the top. A half-chance for Burrell was easily saved by Law as the game entered added time at the end of the first period, and there was still enough time for Dukes to flap at a Reed free kick before breathing a massive sigh of relief when Concanen’s poke went straight back at him from close range.

For a while upon the resumption there wasn’t a great deal in it, and Tivvy were almost the architects of their own downfall as Concanen lazily gave the ball away and Walshe misfired in front of goal. West then nearly got lucky when a sliced cross to no-one in particular bounced high and over the bar with Law seemingly caught in two minds whether to stay of go, and Cox headed an effort wide from Burrell’s cross. Not that it was all Guildford by any means: Krac miskicked a volley off target, Emati-Emati, for the umpteenth time headed wide (both times Concanen the creator), and so it was time for fresh legs to add further impetus into Town’s attacking play, in turn stretching City’s defence, this time beyond breaking point. By the time he had been on the pitch for seventeen minutes in place of Reed Dan Smith had got himself two assists, the first as he broke down the left and cut the ball back for Wright to stab the ball past Dukes in a somewhat unorthodox manner, and then on the other wing a pullback that Josh Searle somehow managed to squeeze below the sorry City goalkeeper.

Searle’s goal was almost comical in its ridiculousness such was the lack of ferocity on the shot from twenty or more yards, a little like Clint Dempsey’s goal for the United States against England in the 2010 World Cup, and to be brutally frank one must say that the Guildford defence should have done better for Wright’s goal too. One moment they did just about get it right was when they played a tight yet effective offside trap which caught Heveran just ahead of the penultimate man, so the Tivvy player’s spectacular volley over his shoulder and into the top corner counted for nothing. Such a shame for Heveran who enjoyed an outstanding game and deserved a goal, even one as spectacular as that, but it wasn’t to be and in the end mattered not, for Tivvy had essentially persevered as the better unit to finally exploit the opposition using their best strengths and a clever set of substitutions.

For all that one may or may not feel about TTFC and their means to an end these days, it is impossible to deny that this team can play some rather good football when they are in the mood. Granted it was against timid opponents and they will need to be sharper and more clinical in front of goal against better teams who offer up fewer openings, but this first ever trip to the Spectrum was a job well done, three points in the bag, and a further morale boost as the season continues to unfold.

Guildford Town: Will Dukes, Kershaney Samuels, Josh Clayman, Bruce McPhail, Ryan Bernard, Yacine Enahole, Kieran Burrell (Nassim Dukali 76), Ben Walshe, George Bowerman, Pat Cox, Tuan West
Goal: Cox 17
Booked: Clayman 90
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Dan Law, Steve Tully, Chris Long, John Heveran, Matt Villis, Tom Gardner, Shane Krac, Jules Emati-Emati (Adam Kelly 65), Matt Wright, Josh Concanen  (Josh Searle 77), Stephen Reed (Dan Smith 65)
Goals: Viilis 7, Concanen 8, Wright 70, Searle 82
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Attendance: 90

This report ©2013 Alan Reidy