Match report

Shortwood United 3 - 3 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 21/09/2013   Southern League First Division
Alan Reidy

Whichever way you want to crunch the numbers eleven points from the last fifteen on offer is a decent return, particularly when considering that those four missing points were conceded away from home. Both at Merthyr and on Saturday at Shortwood, however, Tiverton let slip a lead to end up sharing the points, and that points strongly enough for the management team to know that the team is still very much a work in progress rather than the finished article which would consider anything but the title a let-down. In the middle of the Gloucestershire countryside it could have been very different indeed had not four of the afternoon’s six goals been directly related to goalkeeping errors, and Tivvy could eventually consider themselves lucky that they escaped with a draw.

Shortwood’s attacking play was excellent throughout and within three minutes they had worked the ball across the face of the penalty area – Joe Parker, John Cant and finally Duncan Culley – and Town were left to thank the well-positioned Chris Long for clearing Culley’s shot off the line. Cant would prove to be a problem for the Tiverton defence throughout the game but it was from the opposite corner of the pitch that the first goal was created and scored as Sam Malsom was freed, cut in from the left and shot speculatively low towards Ashton Herbert’s bottom corner. From all angles around the ground it seemed the ball was heading outside the post – even to Herbert – but the young goalkeeper was left with metaphorical egg on his face when Malsom’s shot squeezed just inside the post and into the net with most people around the place already preparing themselves for a goal kick.

Tiverton enjoyed the upper hand for a while but Shortwood soon pulled themselves together and again it was their attacking that proved to be more cutting. Shane Krac lofted one not all that far over Herbert’s crossbar, but Dan Law was brought into action to tip over a decent effort from Matt Bennett and Parker volleyed off the outside of the post when he met Cant’s inch-perfect centre. Shortwood had so nearly got themselves back on level terms, so nearly fell two behind as Krac tried to emulate Malsom from earlier but this time the ball did indeed bobble past the foot of the post, and then United did find the equaliser as Cant again found space on the left and crossed for Parker to spectacularly head home at the far post.

It was difficult to know which way to look (except too often upwards when Tiverton had the ball, that despite a fine playing surface and a swirling wind which was not generally conducive to punting it up in the air) as there was action at both ends of the pitch. Malsom stormed forward, cut inside as is his wont, and shot off target, then before half an hour was up Long and Law contrived to scramble the ball behind from a corner from which Culley rose highest to nod Shortwood into the lead for the first time. Moments after the restart Culley saw a shot deflected wide after Krac had been needlessly caught deep by Jake Parrott, a mistake that led to very audible shouts from the Tivvy dugout of “two touches Kracy!” Krac and Town got away with that one and within a few blinks had found an equaliser of their own; Dan Smith missed a chance from range but Matt Wright was in no mood to pass up his opportunity and was alert enough when Herbert made a complete mockery of fielding an overhit ball over the top from John Heveran. Herbert slipped, or was wrong-footed or something else quite inexplicable, allowed the ball to roll past him, and Wright was left with the easy task of rolling the ball into the net unchallenged.

The first half ended with Tivvy back in the ascendancy and Adam Kelly was flagged for offside as he headed Smith’s cross onto the crossbar, while Matt Villis could and perhaps should have scored but instead headed straight at the ’keeper having met Malsom’s floated free kick, Herbert keeping up his standard by making things difficult for himself and taking the ball awkwardly with one hand, and then finally a second in the nick of time.

Significant was Tiverton’s one substitution at half time: Josh Concanen, who had received a bit of a run-around by Cant gave way, Steve Tully came on, and interestingly the vast majority of Shortwood’s attacks thereafter were down the opposite flank. The home side were unlucky when Law just managed to claw away a header from Parrott, unluckier still when claims for a penalty after an apparent foul on Parker were turned down, and then frustrated amongst themselves as Parker crossed, Adam Mann arrived, and with more time than he knew what to do with headed straight at the Town goalkeeper. That spell of pressure which had lasted for the best part of fifteen minutes was fruitless and Tivvy punished their hosts with a second substitution which almost immediately paid dividends. Off came Kelly who had played as a support striker less impressively than he had against Elmore three days earlier, on came Jules Emati-Emati, and into the net went the ball. Smith had curled in a corner, Herbert punched only as far as the edge of the area, Tom Gardner looped the ball back in, Herbert again tried to punch but merely flapped as Wright glanced the ball on, and with the goalkeeper wondering off doing his own thing for the third time that day Emati-Emati swivelled and crashed the ball between two defenders on the line, still guarding the post from the initial corner.

The Shortwood supporters – well versed in being remarkably fair which is a pleasant change indeed for fans in the Southern League – were at pains to point out that poor Herbert was still a young pup, not nineteen yet, and only played for the reserve side. Dan Law was much the same when he made his Tivvy début against Sholing last season, and in fact remains closer to eighteen than nineteen, yet he had not only not made any costly mistakes, but also a couple of decent saves along with one or two of a more routine nature. This wasn’t pointed out at the time to our friends from the opposition, and it was a good job too because with six minutes left to play, amid more pressure from Shortwood, Law called for, seemed to have caught, and then dropped a Bennett corner. Dropped not nicely for Villis or Gardner of Tully to hammer away but dropped conveniently for Sam Avery to throw his body forward and head into the net.

United more than deserved their third goal – had it not been for their own goalkeeper they would have been home and dry by now, and one might argue that they deserved a fourth. On the other hand, if Culley could hammer the ball high over the crossbar and into the grounds of the clubhouse from three yards out, unmarked, and with the tag of match-winner ready to be bestowed upon his head then perhaps they didn’t derive to win after all. Most of all Culley’s miss was harsh on James Baldwin who had swept in the most perfect of crosses behind the Tiverton defence, and although he had one final chance to redeem himself his final shot was of a much greater tariff and clipped the crossbar before heading again towards the bar area. And that sir was that, with the exception of a yellow card for Tully as he chopped down Tim Haddock and stopped the Shortwood substitute instigating an added-time counter attack. Three-three, and on the whole Tivvy rather got away with it. Who would be a goalkeeper?


Shortwood United: Ashton Herbert, Sam Avery, Matt Bennett, Mark Pritchett, James Coates, James Baldwin, Joe Parker (Nick Hancock 78), Jake Parrott, Duncan Culley, Adam Mann, John Cant (Tim Haddock 78)
Goals: Parker 24, Culley 29, Avery 84
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Dan Law, Josh Concanen (Steve Tully 46), Chris Long, John Heveran, Matt Villis, Tom Gardner, Shane Krac, Adam Kelly (Jules Emati-Emati 77), Matt Wright, Dan Smith, Sam Malsom (Stephen Reed 72)
Goals: Malsom 6, Wright 38, Emati-Emati 69
Booked: Wright 40, Tully 90+4
Sent off: None

Attendance: 80


This report ©2013 Alan Reidy