Match report

Tiverton Town 3 - 2 Kings Langley

   Saturday 02/12/2017   Southern League Premier Division
Simon Ellis

It is becoming extraordinarily difficult to write a match report without the mention of prolific frontman Levi Landricombe with his record now at 86 goals in 99 matches, on a day of footballing firsts to remember for the Yellows latest victory. The first ever meeting of the two sides, a first hat-trick of the season for said frontman and the first time ever a Tivvy striker has found himself top of the Premier Division leading scorers chart. His first cancelled out Kieran Turner's spectacular opener, while his second and third came either side of a Stephen Ward tap in. The suspended Jamie Price was replaced by the fit again Owen Irish for the only change in personnel from the previous win over Merthyr, and the Yellows had to make do without the guidance of manager Martyn Rogers, absent with a "heavy cold"; the unchanged visitors, fresh from their impressive draw with table-topping Kings Lynn, will have made the long journey back to Hertfordshire wondering how they hadn’t added to their points tally by at least one, not making the most of their periods of superiority and the two soft second half penalties their ultimate undoing.

A power cut before kick-off at Ladysmead had threatened to derail the match but thanks to the floodlights being part of a separate electrical circuit, game on. The early chances for either side were comfortably repelled until Tom Bath came closest to opening the scoring, lobbing wide after Nick Hurst's quick free kick had sent him through, before a Callum Adebiyi long throw eventually fell to Turner on the edge of the area and he spectacularly curled in the opener and but for Player of the Month for November Tom Gardner heading away Turner's cross minutes later, Mitchell Weiss would have probably doubled their lead. Man of the moment Landricombe had seen a snap shot comfortably saved by Langley keeper Martin Bennett moments before the visitors opened the scoring, but finished emphatically on the half hour mark, right-footed in to the far corner after Ollie Knowles had opened the defence with a fine through ball.

Barely two minutes of the second half had passed when the Yellows were handed the opportunity to take the lead for the first time: Landricombe nicked the ball away from Bennett, was brought down and eventually despatched the resulting spot kick high to Bennett's right despite the keeper guessing correctly which way he would go to end his recent spot-kick hoodoo. Brendan Ocran almost embarrassed Rice before the hour mark, spotting him off his line, and the long-range effort narrowly sailed over just moments before the visitors did equalise, the impressive Turner's left wing delivery found Ward who guided home at the far post after the Yellows failed to clear their lines, and soon after Turner's delivery was smartly dealt with by Mammola as the visitors looked to restore their lead.

The final telling action of the afternoon had more than a sniff of controversy about it. Levi timed his run perfectly from almost halfway and bore down on goal after another defence-splitting pass from Knowles, only again to be brought down by Bennett, this time outside the area, and while referee Burley initially seemed uninterested in the Yellows' claims for a foul, his assistant flagged and despite the home crowd wanting further punishment for Bennett, none was given. The eventually taken free kick was struck goal-wards by Landricombe only to be thwarted from reaching its intended target by the hand of full-back Emmanuel Folarin, and despite his protestations, another penalty which Landricombe stepped up to and this time he smashed his effort straight down the middle as Bennett dived to his left. Landricombe was given a rousing ovation when he was replaced in added time by youngster Brad Kelly, a more than fitting tribute for his afternoon's efforts, and try as the might, Langley couldn`t quite muster another equaliser in the minutes that remained.

Tiverton Town: Martin Rice, James Richards, Nick Hurst, Michael Landricombe, Ben Mammola, Tom Gardner, Jamie Short, Ollie Knowles, Tom Bath, Levi Landricombe (Brad Kelly 90), Owen Irish
Goals: Levi Landricombe 30, 48p, 79p

Attendance: 182

This report ©2017 Simon Ellis

Tiverton Town 3 - 2 Kings Langley

   Saturday 02/12/2017   Southern League Premier Division
Alan Reidy

Whisper it quietly: Joni Mitchell was wrong! Sometimes you do know what you’ve got before it’s gone, and in Tiverton Town’s case, and amongst all connected, there will be a universal hope that it ain’t gone for some time yet. What Tivvy have is a goalscorer of extraordinary proportions in Levi Landricombe. A game shy of 100 appearances for the club, his hat-trick against Kings Langley saw him move to 86 goals for the club, and his goals per game ratio is around twice as good as any Town player since the club entered the Southern League in 1999.

There was an element of luck and an element of ease (should penalty taking be considered easy) about Landricombe’s latest exploits: the first was a neatly taken chip over the advancing goalkeeper, and certainly one that will be logged without an asterisk; the next was from the spot, and perhaps the penalty was awarded rather fortuitously.  Levi rammed it home anyway, and did much the same with a second spot kick, this time awarded for a clear hand ball which blocked a free kick.

That fee kick could have affected the game more dramatically even than leading to the winning goal: Landricombe was through, and Langley goalkeeper Martin Bennett wiped him out, outside the area.  Bennett was perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch, particularly considering he has taken Levi down for the first penalty, but regardless, his next action was to pick the ball out of the net. The poor chap must be wondering if it is all worth it: contributing to two penalties in Devon came about just a week after conceding one against Gosport a week earlier.

The Landricombe-Bennet joust was a feature of the afternoon, and much earlier the goalkeeper denied the forward with a smart save, and also cleaned up a speculative effort late on in the game. But it would be foolhardy to ignore the impact of Kieran Turner, scorer of the Kings’ first with a wonderfully placed long-range effort, and creator of their second for Stevie Ward.  Turner was the pick of the players in white, along with his opposite full-back Emmanuel Folarin, but they ultimately came up short through little fault of their own doing.

The league table may not lie, but it also doesn’t tell the whole truth. Tiverton are not the type of side to smash teams aside and win handsomely.  Each of the bottom four in the table have been beaten by a single goal, bar Gosport who have granted Tivvy’s only two-goal winning margin this season. The Yellows are effective in getting the job done, they are unspectacular, and remain prone to conceding on the counter attack. The most important thing is getting the points, and Tiverton are incredibly effective in this regard, so their flirtation with the playoff places continues.

Joni Mitchell may have been wrong, but she also lyricised that the seasons go round and round.  There is very much a similar feeling to the 2002/03 campaign about this one, with efficiency over exuberance.  Back them Tivvy punched above their weight to finish a club-best 4th. It isn’t inconceivable that the same will happen this season.

This report ©2017 Alan Reidy