The unofficial archives of Tiverton Town Football Club

Tiverton Town 2 - 2 Beaconsfield Town

Saturday 23/12/2023   Southern League Premier Division
Darren Holmes

There was little to choose between these teams in the table going into this one, and so it proved in the end on a wet afternoon at the Ian Moorcroft Stadium.  

The Yellows were unable to lean on the experience of Jamie Richards (suspended) and River Allen (injured), with the latter fit only to be substitute, although they were able to welcome Matt Britton back to the starting line-up, available again after getting injured in the Hanwell game on November 25. Dual registration signing striker Rikki Shepherd also took his place in the team with Exeter loanee Theo Cutler on the bench.

The team struggled to settle early on and it was Beaconsfield who were more decisive in their interplay, as the Yellows’ moves often broke down with overhit passes or players on a different wavelength.

After a close-range effort from Jack Veale, whose poor contact made life easy for Reading loanee Matt Rowley in the Beaconsfield goal, it was the more fluent Rams who drew first blood. In the 22nd minute, Britton received a caution for clipping the heels of Asher Yearwood as he advanced to a central position just outside the Tiverton box. Up stepped James Dobson, whose curling, pacey free-kick to the corner of Zak Baker’s goal left the goalkeeper well beaten.

The visitors’ added to that fine goal a few minutes later after a Tivvy player missed his kick from a corner situation and presented Yearwood with a relatively simple opportunity, which he took. At that stage it was looking ominous  for the Yellows, with Tiverton struggling to handle Zidan Akers, whose powerful surges down our right were giving cause for concern.

The Beaconsfield line-up contained three very seasoned players: Sam Togwell, a defensive midfielder for Barnsley, Scunthorpe and Crystal Palace; ex Oxford United striker Jefferson Louis the legendary 42-club man who is now 44; and James Dobson, the technically gifted midfielder who has played plenty of games in the National League. This kind of pedigree was apparent in the early exchanges.

Although the second goal could have been a knockout blow for the Yellows, it saw them instead pick themselves up off the canvas. A long throw down by the corner flag from Dylan Jones found Jack Veale’s head, but a defensive block shielded Rowley from making a save.

That 28th-minute chance seemed to cajole Tiverton into some more expansive, flowing football and, with Josh Jones outstanding at the back, Yellows slowly took grip of possession with the first-half closing. Niall Thompson, who had often found himself isolated in the opening half hour, was able to use his acceleration to good effect down the Rams’ left and Javan Wright, Jack Rice and Bailey Kempster were all making good inroads into Beaconsfield territory. Shepherd, with some bright moments, was working manfully upfront. The tidy Jerry Lawrence, winning possession and using the ball wisely, was also having a good game.

On 37 minutes, the dangerous well balanced Wright was the recipient of an ugly lunge from a Rams’ midfielder, which, to the disbelief of Tivvy fans, went unpunished. However, on the stroke of half-time, we were awarded a free-kick around 25 yards away from the Beaconsfield goal. Rice, with a moment of brilliance, shaped to curl into the opposite top corner, only to dip his sublime strike intothe other side of the goal off of the post and in completely bamboozling Rowley. It was just the tonic that the Yellows needed and they went into the interval with a one-goal deficit.

When the game restarted, it was not long before Baker had to demonstrate the reason why he has impressed so many Tiverton supporters since his arrival, a sliced clearance from Veale testing his razor sharp reactions as he pulled of a fine stop.

Despite that early scare, this was to be Tiverton’s half.

The solid Josh Jones was caught heavily by a Beaconsfield midfielder on a promising carry into the Ram’s final third as they both went for a 50/50 ball. Thankfully, the Tivvy powerhouse was able to continue and his team was now on the front foot. On the hour mark just after, Leigh Robinson and Ben Gerring made their first changes of the afternoon: first Carlo Garside replaced Britton and then Mitch Beardmore came on for Wright.

Moments after the second change, the Yellows swept forward with some incisive combination play and good movement, resulting in Lawrence firing over from the edge of the D. Tivvy continued to press for the elusive equaliser and a whipped in cross found the onrushing Dylan Jones, but the ball would not come down for him and skidded off his thigh and went behind.

The Rams then broke and a glancing header thankfully missed the target. Although reduced to few attacks, Beaconsfield still had enough nous about them to remain a threat. Shepherd who put in a real shift, then went off and onto the field came 17-year-old Cutler, a prolific scorer for Exeter City Under-18’s.

A Thompson burst was ended by the wily Togwell, who deliberately halted his progress by chopping him down, rather than, at the age of 39, being left for dead. It was an obvious booking. The Yellows’ were piling on the pressure and forced a corner, although the visitors cleared to safety. Beardmore then lifted a shot wide, when well placed to score, in the first of the five added minutes.

It was beginning to look like this was not Tiverton’s day, but the noticeably fitter Yellows tend to finish games strongly of late. It was the new boy Cutler who came to the rescue as an emphatic strike of quality with the outside of his boot from the edge of the Rams’ box salvaged a well-deserved equaliser with just two added minutes left. What a way to introduce yourself!

It finished 2-2 and Tivvy enter the Christmas programme in 16th place. The game was a six-pointer and so is the Boxing Day fixture at Plymouth Parkway, who do not just have points on the board – they also have games in hand. Dorchester, who have moved into the bottom four, are our New Year’s Day opponents at the Ian Moorcroft Stadium.

This report ©2023 Darren Holmes